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Mobile apps to generate untold riches for developers

Even when they're free, says analyst

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Smartphone owners will together spend a staggering $6.2bn on applications this year, market watcher Gartner has forecast.

The company calculates that, in 2009, we spent $4.24bn, and with analysts unanimously anticipating yet more iPhones, BlackBerries, Palms and Android handsets to be purchased in 2010, Gartners' predicted revenue jump of almost 60 per cent doesn't sound unreasonable.

More amazing, perhaps, is the fact that all that cash will come from just 18 per cent of the applications we download. The remaining 82 per cent of apps are freeware. Now, Gartner said some 4.5bn apps will be downloaded in 2010, so that means just under 810m of them will require paying for.

That's an average price of $7.65 per app.

Most mobile apps cost rather less than that, which just goes to show why the likes of TomTom, CoPilot developer ALK and everyone else making iPhone satnav applications - which typically cost rather more than $7.65 - were all running around Las Vegas earlier this month hosting gigs in exclusive nightclubs and generally spending money like it's going out of fashion.

They are, in short, rolling in the stuff, and it's all thanks to their new mobile apps.

Kerching.

And the Croesus-style excess will continue. In 2013, Gartner reckons, global app store revenues will total $29.48bn.

Even the free apps will be pumping money into their developers' bank accounts, thanks to the advertising they will inevitably present to the users. In 2010, this kind of advertising will generate $600m - almost nine per cent of the total - rising to $7.38bn - 25 per cent of total app revenue - in 2013.

It's not all good news for developers, mind. Gartner warns that, as smartphones go mainstream, they'll be bought and used by less tech-savvy punters, folk less likely to spend willy-nilly on new apps.

Maybe, but we reckon they won't be able to resist the free stuff, and so the balance of revenue will shift from application purchases to in-app advertising. ®

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