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Mobile App Sales To Reach $99 Billion In 2019

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke. Total revenues from mobile apps are on track to reach $99 billion by 2019, according to a new forecast from Juniper Research. The lion’s share of this bonanza will go to mobile game developers, reflecting our apparently bottomless demand to waste time. Other strong growth drivers will include “lifestyle” apps for purposes like dating and navigation.

It’s worth noting the figure includes in-apps sales, not just paid app downloads. In fact Juniper forecasts that just 1% of the 235 billion projected app downloads in 2015 will be paid at the point of download, with this model contributing just 12% of total app revenues. The figure for total app downloads in 2015 is up 28% from 184 billion app downloads in 2014.

Remarkably, China accounted for 60% of all downloads in 2014, and Chinese search giant Baidu is now the second-largest app distributor after Google, eclipsing Apple. However other markets are more lucrative, with revenue per download in the U.S. nine times higher than China.

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By category, dating apps are currently among the highest-grossing apps in the U.K., where Juniper is headquartered, including Match.com and the inevitable Tinder. Juniper predicts that mobile apps will help drive revenue growth for dating sites, which are already well-established online.

Juniper also found that navigation apps stand out for adhering to a “pay per download” model, generally charging a one-time fee rather than experimenting with the popular “freemium” model. However Juniper expects navigation apps will transition to a subscription model.

The vast majority of app sales take place through virtual stores operated by Apple, Google, or Baidu, leaving less than 2% of app downloads to network operators. Juniper author Windsor Holden notes: “Operators have finally recognized that they cannot compete with Apple and Google from a content distribution basis. If they are to monetize content, that revenue has to come from bundling content into subscriptions or through leveraging the billing relationship.”

Other media companies are also diving into the mobile app economy, Holden adds: “Broadcasters are now offering distinct and bolt-on mobile packages, a trend which will gain further impetus as customers migrate to larger screen phablet devices.”

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