2010 will be a massive year for mobile application downloads, with just under 6 billion mobile applications forecast to be downloaded, up from an estimated 2.4 billion in 2009. Over 800 million Android apps are forecast to be downloaded this year.
The rapid adoption of smartphones, registering a sales growth of 20 percent in 2009, as well as the proliferation of application stores are the major drivers for this expansion, say analysts at ABI Research.
In addition, 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 iPhone OS, will have proprietary application stores and are racing to populate these stores with winning applications.
"The iPhone will continue to be the leading app platform, with a database of over 125,000 applications offering niche and localized content," says ABI wireless research associate Bhavya Khanna.
"Other platforms are still playing catch-up, with Android being the fastest gainer among them. ABI Research expects that with over 30,000 applications now available, over 800 million Android applications will be downloaded in 2010."
Revenues from mobile app sales, however, 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.
According to vice president of Forecasting Jake Saunders, "As competition heats up, app makers are both dropping prices and ‘going free' to stay on top of the download charts."