updated 11:00 am EDT, Tue June 28, 2011
IDC sees 17X spike in app downloads coming
Mobile app downloads should grow 17 times larger in the next few years, IDC says in a new prediction (pay-only) on Tuesday. Apps for Android, iOS and other platforms is estimated to grow from 10.7 billion downloads for all of 2010 to 182.7 billion in 2015. Researchers aren't willing to predict which platform will lead that group, although iOS remains in front so far at 425,000 apps.
Some of the app growth would be fueled by in-app purchases. IDC sees apps largely moving away from paying up front to free apps that either unlock significant parts through an in-app sale or get extensions through new content afterwards. Developers have "dramatically increased" their plans to go this route and may be creating a more sustainable app model.
Location awareness and social networking are also helping sustain apps by keeping users active in apps they might otherwise stop using.
Although they've since come under dispute, studies have suggested apps may be used more than the web on many smartphones. The web is more universal but often isn't as touch-optimized and is currently limited in what it can do, particularly when using the camera or other hardware.