Global mobile app store gross revenue will rise to $51 billion in 2016 and exceed $101 billion in 2020, with growth largely driven by two factors: strong app adoption in developing economies and mobile apps' ability to capture greater wallet share in mature economies.
The App Annie mobile app data report forecasts that global mobile app store downloads will reach 284 billion in 2020, as the global installed base more than doubles between 2015 and 2020.
The iOS App Store will retain gross revenue leadership until 2017, at which point the combination of Google Play and third-party Android store revenue will surpass it due to the wider proliferation of Android devices, according to the report.
While games revenue will dominate through the forecast period, revenue for apps, excluding games, will exceed 2015 levels by more than four times by 2020, accounting for more than 25 percent of all app store spend.
Time spent in apps from categories like social, shopping and transportation strongly suggests that advertising and commerce will form a significant proportion of economic activity in the app ecosystem beyond the $101 billion App Annie is projecting in store sales.
The report also noted that mature markets like the United States are in the midst of a shift from a download growth phase to one that is characterized by strong growth in app use and resulting revenue expansion.
China drives the most downloads of any country—roughly one out of every three—and is expected to remain the greatest contributor to downloads through 2020, even as India's app store downloads soar.
There is also expected to be a growing contribution from apps as they expand into new platforms, namely wearables, TVs, virtual and augmented reality, home Internet of things and automotive.
Revenue generated per device will grow from $15.42 in 2015 to $16.22 in 2020, with growth driven by existing smartphone users in mature markets.
Even though new smartphone owners will generally come from lower income brackets, mobile will continue to capture more of consumers' share of wallet, driving revenue per device up in the Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and globally.
Meanwhile, revenue per device in the Asia-Pacific region will see a small decline from 2015 to 2020 as less affluent users in India, Malaysia and Indonesia balance results from Japan and China.
"We are only in the early stages of the app market's maturity cycle. Apps are set to become the most important interface between consumers and businesses as mobile consumes more of our time and as apps expand into new device platforms," the report concluded. "Mobile apps have already dwarfed previous computing revolutions and we can look forward to even more growth ahead for the app economy."