Mobile Apps Will Struggle to Make Money for Developers: Gartner

Of current paid applications, about 90 percent are downloaded less than 500 times per day and make less than $1,250 a day, according to the report.

Through 2018, less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers, as consumers increasingly turn to other means to discover mobile applications rather than sorting through the thousands of mobile apps available, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

The firm is also forecasting that by 2017, 94.5 percent of downloads will be for free apps. Of current paid applications, about 90 percent are downloaded less than 500 times per day and make less than $1,250 a day, a trend that Gartner analysts said would only become worse in the future.

"The vast number of mobile apps may imply that mobile is a new revenue stream that will bring riches to many," Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "However, our analysis shows that most mobile applications are not generating profits and that many mobile apps are not designed to generate revenue, but rather are used to build brand recognition and product awareness or are just for fun. Application designers who do not recognize this may find profits elusive."

As the mobile browser evolves from a thin rendering engine to a sophisticated application delivery platform running complex JavaScript applications, the browser on mobile endpoint devices will be used as a sophisticated application delivery platform, with 50 percent of new Web apps involving complex client-side JavaScript by 2017, the report predicted.

"At least three platforms (Android, iOS and Windows) will gain significant market share in the smartphone, tablet and PC space, requiring many organizations to support multiple platforms for both consumer- and employee-facing applications," Dulaney continued. "Although more than 100 'platform independent' development tools exist, most involve technical or commercial compromises, such as lock-in to relatively niche technologies and small vendors. This will drive increasing interest in HTML5 as a somewhat-standardized, widely available, platform-neutral delivery technology."

The report also predicted that by 2016, 20 percent of enterprise bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs will fail due to enterprise deployment of mobile device management (MDM) measures that are too restrictive.

As employees become sensitive to giving IT organizations access to personal devices, they are demanding solutions that isolate personal content from business content and restrict the ability of the IT organization to access or change personal content and applications.

"Whether via formal BYOD programs, or just via devices coming in the back door and being configured to access corporate systems, the use of consumer technologies in the work environment presents a threat to IT control of endpoint computing resources," Dulaney said. "Given the control that IT has exercised over personal computers by developing and deploying images to company-managed PCs, many IT organizations will implement strong controls for mobile devices."