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Mobile app consumption to peak by 2013

Due to the increase in the mobile Web’s sophistication, subscriber demand for downloadable applications will eventually level off. Two emerging trends are certain: brands and publishers deciding not to launch an application at all and an increase in more popular applications that are preloaded on mobile devices.

“The most important question to ask in strategic planning for the mobile channel by brands and marketers is to define your goals,” said Mark Beccue, senior analyst of consumer mobility at ABI Research, New York. “How important is the addressable market?

“Are you more interested in certain demographics?” he said. “If so, what in mobile matches up for you?”

ABI Research provides analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies.

There’s an app for that
Carriers plan to launch their own application stores, which will extend the principle of downloadable applications to feature phones.

This means access to newer and developing markets where smartphone penetration is lower.

ABI forecasts total downloads through market share percentages and the retail value of paid applications sold, segmented by smartphone operating system and by region.

The latest research centered on smartphones and other high-end devices that provide an optimized mobile Web experience, which effectively means the focus is on mature markets.

Last year consumers downloaded 2.4 billion applications.

ABI predicts that the download rate will accelerate over the next few years until 2013 where downloads are expected to peak.

“Our estimate is that smartphone downloads from app stores will grow to 6.4 billion in 2011,” Mr. Beccue said. “Growth is not steady – 2010 will see a major jump in downloads over 2009.

“From there it is relatively steady through 2013,” he said.

IPhone users generally fall under a certain affluent demographic but make up a very small percentage of all mobile users today.

However, Apple’s App Store will continue to lead the field among application stores, according to ABI.

Starting in 2014, the smartphone download rates from application stores will start a slow decline, but total downloads from all sources will probably continue to grow.

Mr. Beccue predicts that applications stores are not going away by 2013, but rather they will peak and the number of downloads by 2015 will have only decreased by 7 or 8 percent.

As the use of mobile Internet evolves, demand will increase and shift elsewhere.

“Smartphone app stores face some challenges to keep momentum with developers and consumers that are difficult to overcome, namely, fragmentation, which is a problem for developers, and discoverability, which is a problem for both developers – because people don’t find them – and consumers,” said Mr. Beccue.