Apple may have more than 200,000 mobile applications in its App Store, but in reality only seven types of applications are expected to drive software downloads and the market over the next few years.
These seven applications include: email, games, social networking, instant messaging, mapping & directions, music & radio, and weather. Together, these seven will account for 7 billion downloads worldwide in 2014, says market researcher In-Stat. Thus far, about 500 million applications have already been downloaded from Apple's online store since its inception, according to reports.
Smartphone manufacturers should cover all these application bases in their handset designs in order to have a shot at success, cautions Frank Dickson, VP of Research. "A designer can optimize a handset for any one of those application categories. However, it's the big seven applications that phone designers need to accommodate in each and every device."
The Big 7
Mobile gaming may eventually top the list as a leading application type, say other researchers. Sales of game-capable cell phones are forecast to reach 1.27 billion this year, up about 11.4% from last year's figures. One reason is the ‘near-universal presence' of gaming-capable cell phones, which "gives them the potential to become a viable competitive threat to dedicated gaming platforms, primarily handheld devices," said Pamela Tufegdzic, consumer electronics analyst at iSuppli.
In-Stat presently tracks 26 different categories of smartphone applications. The three applications that are expected to have the highest compound annual growth rates through 2014 are micro blogging, mobile banking, and VoIP, Dickson noted. Productivity applications such as mapping, business and enterprise applications and phone tools & utilities presently generate 59% of all smartphone application revenue.
The flood of new mobile applications, fueled by the introduction of new platforms like the Android OS, is putting significant pressure on the market in terms of pricing and margin, he explained. Android application downloads are growing at the fastest clip, although applications for Apple's iOS still dominate both free and paid downloads.
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