All About Apps: Part 3. App Business by the Numbers

This is Part 3 in the series “All About Apps”.

Here are a few numbers to put the business of apps in perspective.

There are more than half a million apps available on the leading platforms. About 60 percent of them are iOS apps (for the iPhone and iPad) and nearly 25 percent are Android apps (Distimo, 2011 April). These are figures for the United States. The figures on the availability of apps worldwide should be quite similar because the apps being made available in different national markets are almost identical, e.g., 93 percent of apps on Android markets in the US are identical to those in Germany and Australia, and 91 percent to those in Singapore (Distimo, 2011 January). Developers show a strong interest in building apps for iOS platforms (92 and 87 percent for iPhone and iPad, respectively) and Android (87 percent for phone and 74 percent for tablet). Beyond these two platforms, their interest drops significantly (to 38 and 28 percent for Blackberry phone and tablet, respectively, 36 percent for Windows 7 phone and 16 percent for WebOS tablet) (Appcelerator-IDC, 2010).

Game apps account for the lion’s share (45 percent) of revenues. No other category of apps comes close (Vision Mobile, 2011). Android has more free apps than any other platform. Proportionally, it has twice as many (60 percent) free apps as iOS (29 percent for the iPhone and 26 percent for the iPad) and Backberry (26 percent) (Distimo, 2010 August). Going by usage, games still make up the most popular app category (e.g., 64 percent users have played a game app in the last 30 days), ahead of weather (60 percent), social networking (56), maps/navigation/search (51), music (44) and news (39) (Nielsen, 2011). For tablets, they are very popular with book apps thanks to their larger screen, e.g., books are the second most popular app category (54 percent) behind games (62 percent) (Yudu Media, 2011).

In 2009, the apps had been downloaded 7 billion times and generated US$4.1 billion in revenue globally. Two years before that, the app market barely existed. Asia had the highest percentage of downloads (37 percent), slightly ahead of Europe and North America, yet North America generated over half of the revenues, ahead of Europe and several times more than Asia. This means Asian mobile users are much more likely to download free or low-price apps than European and North American users. Looking forward, app downloads are projected to approach 50 billion and revenues to reach US$17.5 billion in 2012 (Sharma, 2010).

App Business by the Numbers

App Business by the Numbers

Downloading apps does not equate with using them. About one in four apps, once downloaded, is not used again after the first time; and the trend seems to get worse (22 percent in 2010 Q1, 26 and 28 percent in Q3 and Q4, respectively), according to Localytics (2011). Among tablet owners having downloaded just a few apps, 95 percent use them on a regular basis, those having downloaded 10+ apps 37 percent, and those having downloaded 20+ apps only 16 percent. App usage among iPhone owners shows a similar pattern – only 17 percent of users having downloaded 10+ apps use them regularly (eMarketer, 09/22/2011).

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