The latest forecast on the mobile apps economy suggests that content subscriptions and in-app billing will drive the apps market to revenues of in excess of US$30bn by 2015.
Juniper Research forecasts that the combined revenues from apps funded by pay-per-download (PPD), value-added services (VAS, including freemium and subscription) and advertising is expected to rise from just under US$10bn in 2009 to US$32bn in 2015.
But while Apple’s App Store has achieved app downloads on an unprecedented scale – 4 billion by April 2010 – the report cautions brands and developers against ignoring users of other platforms/handsets.
According to Juniper, such a move could be counter productive, particularly in developing markets, where the user base of iPhones (and indeed smartphones, per se) is extremely low.
“If the mobile industry wishes to introduce a model based on applications, then it must ensure that those applications are accessible by a wide range of handsets ranging from smartphones to mass-market devices,” said report author, Dr Windsor Holden.
Furthermore, uplift in download volumes does not necessarily equate to an uplift in industry revenues.
The majority of application downloads from the App Store are free; other storefronts launched in the wake of the App Store also report that comparatively small proportions of apps (typically 5-15pc) are paid for.
As a result, building a business model aimed at both maximising consumer adoption of applications and at maximising content revenues can be extremely problematic, Holden warns.