Some in the mobile industry have written off apps, arguing that they will recede in importance as technology makes mobile internet browsing a better experience. If you’re one of the naysayers, then the latest report from IDC might give you pause: the analyst group today released data that predicts mobile apps will bring in $35 billion in revenue by 2014, representing a CAGR of 60 percent. But ironically, the analysts don’t think that it will be mobile per se that will drive this growth.
In its report, called The Applification of Everything, IDC says that by 2014 there will be 76.9 billion app downloads, compared to a mere 10.9 billion this year.
That growth, however, won’t necessarily all come from smartphones, but from other connected devices, from tablets to TV sets, that will be able to host these apps.
We have seen a degree of this transformation already, in particular among consumer electronics giants like Samsung, which has developed an app store for its connected TVs while also developing an app store for mobile devices running its proprietary Bada operating system.
But to date, these cross-platform app strategies have yet to produce the kind of download explosion that we’ve seen from the original App Store from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), and — to a lesser extent — Google’s Android Market.
Samsung expects 50 million downloads from its Bada store this year. Perhaps in any other context that would sound like a great number. But when you hear that there will be 10.9 billion apps downloads overall, you realise what a drop in the bucket 50 million is.
In contrast, it’s stores like Apple’s and Google’s that are making up the bulk of the downloads this year, and are driving the business models that are emerging out of the apps ecosystem.
On the subject of business models… Unfortunately, IDC has not released details on how they think revenues will break down between free/ad-supported apps, those that cost a fee to download, and those that feature in-app charging; those details come at a price.
Still, it is hard to imagine how something that has grown so quickly and has captured consumers’ fancy will disappear overnight.