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Expect 6B mobile app downloads in 2010: ABI Research

ABI Research expects 2010 to be a big year for mobile applications, with almost 6 billion mobile applications to be downloaded, up from an estimated 2.4 billion in 2009.

The rapid adoption of smartphones, registering a sales growth of 20 percent in 2009, and the proliferation of application stores are the major drivers for this expansion, according to the research firm.

“What’s interesting is that there will be a tilt away from paid apps soon,” said Mark Beccue senior analyst of mobile consumer services at ABI Research, Oyster Bay, NY. “Right now its still majority paid.

“Anyone who is a brand, let’s say selling pencils, cars or anything, it makes sense to have a mobile presence so there is an opportunity to be creative and use apps as a channel to communicate with consumers,” he said.

According to ABI, two new smartphone platforms will make their debut later this year; Samsung’s Bada OS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Series.

Both platforms, similar to Apple’s, will have proprietary application stores and are racing to populate these stores with winning applications.

According to ABI, the iPhone will continue to be the leading application platform, with a database of more than125,000 applications offering niche and localized content. 

The research firm said that other platforms are still playing catch-up, with Android being the fastest gainer among them.

ABI Research expects that with more than 30,000 applications now available, over 800 million Android applications will be downloaded in 2010.

Revenues from mobile application sales are expected to decline by 2012, as competition has led to downward pressure on application prices; and a greater proportion of “must-have” applications will begin to have free or advertising-supported substitutes.

In addition, many handset makers such as Nokia, and Motorola with its Android handsets, have started to bundle applications that allow users to connect to popular social networks, instant messaging, and GPS services. 

As competition heats up, application makers are both dropping prices and going free to stay on top of the download charts.

“The reason why there will be more and more free applications is the app stores are not that good at discoverability,” Mr. Beccue said. “But if you are a brand like Lexus, for example, you don’t care cause you throw the app into your multichannel mix and publicize it that way.

“The key thought here is some people are just throwing stuff up against the wall and some stuff isn’t used more than once,” he said. “That’s not what a marketer should be thinking about. They should continually engage the consumers.

“For example, I downloaded a non-branded grocery shopping app and I use it every week. That’s useful and if it was branded by a grocery store that would be a great marketing vehicle for the grocery store.”