More than four years after Apple launched its iPhone App Store, mobile app stores represent some of the world’s fastest growing software markets and create must-build opportunities for many software companies.In a new report, BI Intelligence identifies and compares the major app stores, highlights app economy trends, reveals which platforms developers are most excited about, and examines Microsoft’s attempted comeback with Windows 8.
Here’s a brief overview of the current dynamics of the app store battle:
- Revenue from mobile app store purchases is set to explode: Including paid downloads, in-app purchases, subscriptions, and advertising, revenue could reach $46 billion in 2016 (according to ABI Research), up from $8.5 billion in 2011.
- Apple’s iOS App Store is still champion: Apple’s App Store currently contains about 689,000 apps, for iPhone, iPad, or both, according to AppShopper. Apple’s strengths include a powerful development environment, a curated App Store promoting quality apps, and smooth commerce integration with iTunes accounts and credit cards.
- But, Google Play has made up a lot of ground: Google’s Android app store, passed 600,000 apps this past June. With a history of weak commerce tools, Play’s free apps have always done better. That has an impact on app revenue, as Android apps only earn 24 cents per active user for every $1 earned on iOS.
- RIM is set to reboot: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is struggling, and its new BlackBerry 10 platform won’t launch until next year. Unless you know you need to support BlackBerry devices, it’s probably worth a wait-and-see approach right now for developers and users alike.
- And, what about Windows? Microsoft just released Windows 8 this fall, as well as Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 faces a chicken-and-egg problem: Without many popular apps, phones are less attractive; without millions of users, developing for Windows is less attractive. Microsoft’s time for mobile relevance is running out.
In full, the report:
- Identifies the major app stores, noting their size, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Highlights app economy trends, including Amazon’s app store success, as well as the shift toward tablets and in-app commerce.
- Reveals which platforms developers are most excited about.
- Ponders Microsoft’s big attempted comeback with Windows 8.
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