Rise and Rise of Mobile Apps

Mobile application (apps) is one of the fastest growing category of mobility market today. Mobile applications are software program running on mobile devices targeted to execute specific tasks (games, weather, news, etc. ). Gartner expects that by 2013, number of app downloads will be 49.2 bn as compared to mere 2.5 bn in 2009. This is almost 20 fold increase in app downloads.

One of the key reasons for their growing popularity are their simplicity and cost effectiveness. Many have solved small but important problems of mobile users, say an app to keep updated on stock markets, app for weather, accessing social network websites on the go etc.  Another key aspect for their popularity is many of them do not even need a constant internet connection, they refresh whenever there is connection available.

Rise of app stores

The rise of mobile apps has led to enormous interest from firms both large and small to develop them. Most of them are organized under app stores.  Some of the biggest app stores (as of Q1 2011) along with total apps are given below:
  1. Apple app store – 400,000+
  2. Android market  – 230,000+
  3. GetJar – 160,000+ 
  4. Mobihand – 158,000+
  5. PocketGear – 90,000+
  6. Mobango – 82,000+
  7. Handango – 44,000+
As far as the popularity of mobile app are concerned games apps and weather apps category dominate in terms of number of users. Other popular categories are:
  1. Social network apps
  2. Map / search apps
  3.  Music apps
  4. News apps

App space dominated by a few

Inspite of plethora of apps available and so many being created according to survey of Andriod users, Top 10 apps accounted for almost 43% of usage while Top 50 accounted for just over 60%. This shows that while some apps are super popular, most have low or no following at all.  Both android market and Apple app store have some blockbuster apps. Some of the popular ones are:

Apple app store:
  1. Hair plucker
  2. Temple run
  3. Office Zombie

Android app store:

  1. Facebook
  2. Google maps
  3. You tube

The future

Not all experts are optimistic on the bright future of mobile apps, some say as websites across the globe develop mobile compatible interfaces and as mobile get smarter, many tasks which require apps may get shifted web again. Another factor apps are popular today is poor internet connectivity over mobile phones, as that improves it may impact app popularity.
But as of now, apps are changing the way people are using mobiles today and there appears to be no near term threat for the popularity of mobile apps.