Global mobile app downloads will cross 45.6 billion in 2012 and free apps will account for 89 percent of total downloads, according to Gartner.
The report 'Market Trends: Mobile App Stores, Worldwide, 2012' says free downloads will account for 40.1 billion, and paid-for downloads, five billion in 2012.
Apple's App Store is set to have over 21 billion downloads and this represents an increase of 74 percent over 2011. Apple's increase in download also indicates strong demand for mobile app content, says the research firm.
Lower-priced apps will drive the majority of downloads; apps between 99 cents and US$2.99 will account for 87.5 percent of paid-for downloads in 2012, and 96 percent by 2016.
"Apple's market share is the largest, considering its App Store accounts for 25 percent of available apps in all stores," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. "The number of apps available is driven by an increasing number of stores in the market today that include platform owners, device vendors, communication service providers (CSPs) and others who want to offer core mobile app services. These stores will see their combined share of total downloads increase, but demand for apps overall will still be dominated by Apple, Google and Microsoft."
Stores from third parties
Although users have a range of choices from global OS vendors such as Google Play and Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace, they are also attracted towards stores from third parties that want to make hay in the absence of dominant players in some markets.
Businesses will benefit from using an in-app purchase business model to convert casual app users into paying customers and then retaining them with good user experience and continued product updates.
Upfront payment model asks users to pay and download, and can result in disappointed users who may not like the experience and decide not to come back.
Gartner expects in-app purchases to drive 41 percent of the store revenue in 2016. The number of downloads featuring in-app purchase will also increase from five percent of total downloads in 2011 to 30 percent in 2016.
"App stores should support in-app purchases as soon as possible as this offers a new path of monetisation, and helps to attract developers as they attempt to extend an app's momentum by providing easy access to upgraded services and functionality," said Blau.
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