Today most mobile applications for smartphones are downloaded from “app stores,” such as Apple's iPhone App Store, which is forecast to continue to lead the field. But new data from ABI Research suggests that smartphone downloads from dedicated app stores are expected to peak at just below seven billion in 2013.
In 2009 smartphone users downloaded some 2.4 billion applications from such app stores, and the download rate will accelerate over the next few years until in 2013.
That will be the high point, however, and in the years that follow, smartphone download rates from app stores will start a slow decline (although total downloads from all sources will probably continue to grow.)
According to senior analyst Mark Beccue, “App stores aren’t going away: following the 2013 peak in demand, the number of downloads in 2015 will have decreased only seven or eight percent. But as our use of the mobile Internet evolves, demand will increasingly shift elsewhere.”
Why? The mobile web is getting more and more sophisticated, says Beccue, so that more subscribers will use the functionality on mobile websites themselves rather than dedicated apps.
“We see two emerging trends: first, many applications (increasingly built on web standards) will migrate from app stores to regular websites, and for some sites you won’t need an app at all. In addition, more and more popular applications will be preloaded on mobile devices. Social networking apps in particular will be pre-loaded on new products,” he said.
This discussion has centred on smartphones and other high-end devices that allow optimized mobile web experiences, which effectively means that we’re talking about mature markets.
However another development may change that: mobile network operators (MNOs) will increasingly launch their own app stores, and these outlets may extend the principle of downloadable apps to feature phones, which means access to many newer and developing markets where smartphone penetration is lower.?