Licence to print money? There's an app for that

The smartphone app market was worth $2.2bn in the six months to June. Who needs pyramid schemes?

Last Updated: 09 Sep 2010

If you’re a smartphone user, it’s going to come as little surprise: new figures have shown that the global number of mobile phone application downloads in the first six months of this year has already smashed through the total number for 2009, with 3.8bn downloads between January and June, compared with 3.1bn over the whole of last year. It’s one of the clearest signs yet that the mobile apps market is growing faster than ever. We can see the potential here: who needs dodgy get-rich-quick schemes like pyramid selling when there are legitimate methods like this?

According to the stats by Berlin-based research company Research2Guidance, the market was worth $2.2bn (£1.4bn) in the first half of this year – even though it’s only been around in earnest for a couple of years. Apparently, the popularity has been helped by a surge in downloads from BlackBerry’s App World, Google’s Android Market, and Nokia’s OVI store. (And although they’re not mentioned, we’re sure the launch of the iPad and the iPhone4 didn’t exactly do much damage to the market, either). Apparently, by 2013, the market could have expanded so fast that it’s worth $15bn. That’s a lot of life’s little problems solved.

The average app apparently now costs $3.60 – that has risen by just under a dollar since April last year. It seems to show that people have finally come around to the idea of paying for digital content, as long as the quality is all right (or perhaps that people are succumbing to temptation more easily these days – it’s difficult to tell). That bodes well for the likes of Rupert Murdoch, who is about to take his Great Paywall Experiment a step further by charging for News of the World content.

The researchers said while most of the downloads come from the mobile phone makers’ stores, they expect more and more to come from external, niche stores which specialise in, for example, business or lifestyle apps in the future. It’s an interesting point – particularly when you consider how finicky Apple (still the unquestioned market leader) is about what’s stocked in its App Store. Developers famously wait for weeks while Apple considers whether their apps are good enough or not. Compare that with Google, which has recently unveiled an ‘app builder’, which allows users to build their own apps.

The only question now is whether users go for quality, or quantity. At the moment, the jury’s out.

In today's bulletin:
M&S confirms new chairman
HSBC zeroes in on £4bn deal for Nedbank
Gloomy prospects for household and high street as budgets squeezed
Licence to print money? There's an app for that
MT Expert's Top Ten Tips: Secrets of emotionally effective advertising

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