App market will be worth $17.5 billion by 2012

mobile apps

The global market for mobile applications will be worth $17.5 billion (12 billion) by 2012, according to GetJar, which claims to be the world's second largest app store.

A study, conducted by independent consulting firm Chetan Sharma Consulting, reveals that the value of apps sold will have outstripped the value of global CD sales by 2012, while downloads will skyrocket from a total seven of seven billion last year to 50 billion two years from now, representing a 92 per cent increase year on year for the next three years.

The mobile app marketplace has largely been dominated by Apple's App Store the only app store bigger than GetJar since the iPhone's introduction in 2007.

However, over the last year and a half rival efforts spearheaded by Google's Android Market and Nokia's Ovi Store have emerged to challenge it.

According to GetJar, consumer perception of the app market as being the preserve of high-end smartphones is increasingly being threatened as more platforms and providers emerge aimed at more mass-market 'feature phones'.

"We wanted to find out the real value of the industry because we felt certain segments like the iPhone were being over-hyped and so-called feature phones were being under-hyped," GetJar founder and chief executive Ilja Laurs said in releasing the survey.

GetJar, which launched in 2008, has more than 65,000 applications available for a variety of handsets across multiple platforms. It claims to be approaching one billion downloads in total, and says the number of app stores has blossomed over the past couple of years, from just four when it launched in 2008 to a total of 38 by 2009, with more expected to launch this year.

Virtually all mobile players now have their own app infrastructure, with Google announcing today that users of its Android platform now had 30,000 apps to choose from.

"With the consumer appetite for mobile apps rocketing, the opportunities for developers are huge," Laurs said. "This report signifies a battle for survival of the fittest among app stores worldwide with app revenue and growth opportunities growing significantly.

"There is no way that this many app stores will survive in the long term and while the value of the global app economy is set to be astoundingly high by 2012, we think only a few app stores will share this revenue."

With over 150,000 apps, however, Apple's App Store still dominates the app landscape, but the market is changing rapidly even for Apple. The recent launch of the iPad, for example, saw a dramatic spike in activity on the App Store as developers looked to evolve existing apps and develop new software for the different form factor.

With other significant developments this year expected to include the launch of Windows Phone 7 Series and Nokia and Intel's joint MeeGo platform, the state of the mobile app market is likely to remain hard to pin down.

"The app ecosystem is adjusting across multiple dimensions and thus expanding the revenue opportunities," Chetan Sharma Consulting president Chetan Sharma said. "As the number of active data subscribers grows, we will continue to see the proliferation of apps in many directions on different device types."

Read on for our top 10 mobile productivity apps.