Apple-Led Apps Market to Hit $17.5 Billion by 2012: Report

Apple breathed new life into the mobile app market, which has since run off in numerous money-making directions, driven by increasingly capable devices, high-speed networks and happier developers, says a new report. In 2009, 30 new non-carrier app stores opened their doors.

Mobile application downloads will increase from more than 7 billion in 2009 to nearly 50 billion by 2012, while revenue from the mobile app market will rocket from 2009's $4.1 billion to an expected $17.5 billion by 2012.

These are among the predictions of a March 17 research study from Chetan Sharma Consulting that looked to grasp and quantify the global mobile apps market - which has a global subscription base expected to exceed 5 billion users by the end of 2010 and close in on 6 billion by 2012.

Feeding the market is a wealth of new app stores, with the number of non-carrier stores alone jumping from eight to 38 in 2009 alone.

"Almost all OEMs, big or small, have launched their own app stores," says the report. "Additionally, many vertically focused, more country specific, or platform specific app stores are trying to take advantage of the gold rush."

Growing the apps that are encouraging said gold rush, says the report, are increasingly powerful handsets with up to 1-2GHz processors, wireless networks with consistent, 3G-plus deployments and happier developers with access to native APIs, rich platforms and favorable revenue-sharing terms.

Further, developers with successful apps, and so growing fan bases, are creating opportunities to sell additional "digital and virtual goods," which in turn create additionally revenue streams.

"The creative elements in mobile advertising has seen a significant improvement on platforms such as the iPhone and Android and made the ads more engaging for the consumer and rewarding for the advertisers," states the report.

Adding still more subscribers to the equation is the increasing number of feature-phone users - particularly in China and India - who are also becoming app downloaders. To point, Asia currently leads the download market, accounting for 37 percent of global downloads. Fed by increasing feature-phone users, global app downloads are expected to increase from 7 billion in 2009 to 50 billion per year by 2012.

The report respectfully nods to the original catalyst for the market: Apple, with its iPhone and App Store, which infused new life into a market that had been present but essentially dormant for nearly a decade.

Apple accomplished this, writes Chetan Sharma, by, first, changing the revenue model for apps in favor of developers and, second, bringing more developers into the ecosystem by focusing on just one or two ecosystems. It also helped speed new apps' time to market and created a seamless end-to-end user experience.

With feature phone capabilities beginning to blur with smartphones, and revenue models growing with the numbers of platforms, the market has grown well beyond what Apple first breathed life into.

"While Apple has played a significant role in reenergizing the mobile apps space by bringing more consumers and developers into the ecosystem," states the report, "there is significant activity outside the iPhone or smartphone space that is often not discussed."

A complete copy of the report is available at the GetJar Developer Blog.