Juniper Research claims that mobile app store downloads will hit 25 billion by 2015, but new storefronts face an uphill task to compete with established leaders such as Apple’s App Store.
The analyst firm notes that the entrance of new own-brand storefronts such as Mobile Market from China Mobile, Airtel App Central from Bharti and the Apps & Games Shop on Vodafone 360 will boost the market from less than 2.6 billion consumer-oriented handset downloads in 2009.
However, the Juniper report cautions that players seeking to launch app stores will need to demonstrate sufficient scale to be able to induce developers to provide them with unique content. “Apple has been able to achieve several billion downloads from a comparatively small handset base because customers are buying the iPhone for the apps. That’s not been the case with other handsets,” warns report author Dr Windsor Holden. “So even if you have a subscriber base of tens of millions, your addressable market is a fraction of that – and spread across a variety of operating systems and handsets.”
The report also noted that app store business models are changing, with the concept of ‘freemium’ applications becoming more prolific. Publishers are increasingly offering applications free at point of sale and subsequently monetising them via in-app billing of subscription-based services, upgrades to premium content or micropayments for virtual items.
The Juniper report follows research by the company last month that found the combined revenues from apps funded by pay-per-download, value-added services (including freemium and subscription) and advertising is expected to rise from just under US$10 billion in 2009 to US$32 billion in 2015.