The market for smartphone and tablet software applications has evolved dramatically over the past 6 years. A storefront-oriented ecosystem which was effectively created in mid-2008 by the Apple App Store rapidly branched out across other operating systems.
Meanwhile, the traditional payment mechanism, Pay Per Download (PPD) has been eclipsed by the more attractive freemium model, which enables apps to generate ongoing revenue streams for the app developers.
Juniper Research has found that the number of apps downloaded to mobile phone handsets and media tablets is expected to rise by nearly 28 percent this year to over 235 billion.
Findings from the latest Juniper market study uncovered that the recent surge in app downloads is in large part attributable to phenomenal growth in the Chinese market, which last year accounted for nearly 60 percent of downloads worldwide.
Mobile Apps Market Development in China
According to the Juniper study, local storefronts have benefited from the Google near exclusion from the Chinese marketplace, with access to Google Play store severely restricted by the Great Firewall of China.
As a result, the Baidu app store -- which is effectively integrated into the company's search engine -- has now eclipsed the Apple App Store to become the second-largest storefront in terms of download volumes.
Furthermore, China now accounts for five of the leading seven software app stores by that metric.
However, the Juniper study found that China still lags behind both the U.S. market and Japan -- in terms of total software app revenues -- with revenues per download nearly 9 times higher in the U.S. and more than 14 times higher in Japan.
Besides, Juniper also observed that the continuing trend away from the PPD model now saw that software monetization option accounting for just 12 percent of all app revenues.
Juniper discovered that although Games is the most mature and lucrative app sector, there is significant scope for growth in both developed and developing markets -- highlighting strong migration from handheld game consoles and continued online social gaming growth.
The ongoing adoption and monetization of multimedia apps is likely to be further fueled as mobile network operators bundle these applications with customer subscriptions.
"Broadcasters are now offering distinct and bolt-on mobile packages, a trend which will gain further impetus as customers migrate to larger screen phablet devices," said Dr Windsor Holden, research director at Juniper Research.