Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Mobile apps stores set to thrive

NEW BUZZBy 2013, forecasts show that more than 21.6 billion applications for mobile phones will be downloaded online, 87 percent of which could be free


As smartphones gain market share, mobile application stores such as Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market and Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace are set to gain momentum in downloads and revenues this year, a market researcher said.

Gartner Inc said consumers would spend US$6.8 billion globally this year in mobile application stores, up from US$4.2 billion last year. The amount is expected to reach US$29.5 billion by 2013, it said.

Users could download more than 4.5 billion applications onto their smartphones this year, eight out of 10 of which will be free. Worldwide downloads are expected to surpass 21.6 billion by 2013, of which 87 percent will be free applications, Gartner said in a report on Jan. 18.

“As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment application downloads,” Gartner research director Stephanie Baghdassarian said in a statement.

“Games remain the No. 1 application and mobile shopping, social networking, utilities and productivity tools continue to grow and attract increasing amounts of money,” Baghdassarian said.

Many applications are free and derive their revenues from advertising. This can be done with banners as well as full-page advertising between game levels, for instance.

“Application stores will be a core focus throughout the year for the mobile industry and applications themselves will help determine the winner among mobile devices platforms,” Carolina Milanesi, another research director at Gartner, said in the statement.

As consumers have a number of stores to choose from, “developers will have to consider carefully not only which platform to support, but also which store to promote their applications at,” Milanesi said.

Currently, the mobile application world is dominated by Apple App Store.

The California-based company announced early this month that iPod and iPhone users had downloaded more than 3 billion applications from the App Store — now in its 18th months — worldwide.

The uptake in mobile application download is a boon to local mobile application developers such as Soyong Corp (曉騰國際).

“Third-generation usage saw an exponential uptake since the second half of last year and it fueled e-commerce activities including mobile application downloads,” Soyong sales director Derrick Tan (譚建祥) said.

Soyong develops applications such as English-Mandarin dictionaries and English learning material for platforms including Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian and Android.

The company’s bilingual dictionary MeDictionary is on the top-three list of paid downloads from Taiwan on the App Store.

Riding on the success, it is set to introduce an English mobile learning application with Studio Classroom (空中英語教室) next month, targeting English learners, he said.

“The success of the iPhone prompted users to embrace mobile phone applications,” Tan said, adding that the company is expected to register promising download revenues this year thanks to the aggressive push for smartphones from telecoms service providers.

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