A survey from research2guidance said that the worldwide smartphone application market during the first half of 2010 was bigger than the market for the whole of 2009, with the number of applications downloaded showing a similar trend.
According to the company, during the first half of this year, revenue for the mobile application market was US$2.2 billion, compared with US$1.7 billion for the full 2009 year. The number of applications downloaded during the first half of 2010 was 3.9 billion, compared with 3.1 billion during 2009.
The average application price was US$3.60, although a comparison figure for 2009 was not given. It was noted that despite “significant” differences with regard to prices between stores, the overall decline of app prices has eased. Application publishers should, however, be aware of price differences between stores and mobile platforms, which are a “sign of a lack of market transparency”.
Developers currently see the best business potential in development of products for Apple devices, followed by Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile. By 2013, this will have shifted, with Android overtaking Apple for first spot, and Windows Mobile overtaking Symbian for fourth – presumably this reflects growing momentum around Windows Phone 7 and a shift in market segment away from Symbian OS, although the next generation of Microsoft’s platform is still unproven.
Trends identified by the company for the coming years include a shift in business model, from pay-per-download to ad-based and transaction-supported; a gradual shift from native applications to web apps; and a shift in content from global to regional. Developers and publishers will need to fully understand how mobile users differ from online customers; how to manage multiplatform publishing; and how to develop “second generation” apps, which are more sophisticated than the simple products currently being offered in many cases.
Changing app store profiles
In its earlier research, the company said that despite the proliferation of app stores, customers will primarily use pre-installed store software to “explore the world of applications”, placing device makers, operating system companies and larger mobile network operators in the best position for the app store race. This creates the danger that independent app stores such as GetJar, Handango and Mobango will get “squeezed in the middle” — although it also noted that “there is room for independent app stores…based on the fact that they have been able to learn how to sell mobile applications over many years”.
In a Web conference presentation, Ralf Gordon Jahns (pictured), research director of research2guidance, identified Vodafone, Research In Motion (BlackBerry App World) and China Mobile as the new-entrants to the app store market which have managed to create developer momentum. In download numbers, operators currently perform badly, behind device makers and some third-party stores.
research2guidance also said that “Apple’s competitors like Nokia and BlackBerry started to leverage their global reach and increased the traffic on their app stores. This trend will continue in the next several months and years. The next wave of new app stores will be niche stores specialising on, for example, business or mobile health apps.”