Forecast: Mobile app downloads will double to 160B in 2017


Consumers across the globe will download more than 160 billion apps to their phones and tablets in 2017, doubling from 80 billion in 2013, according to a new Juniper Research forecast.

Juniper credits the download surge to the growing number of consumers in emerging markets swapping feature phones for smartphones, as well as the increasing number of mobile apps offered for no upfront cost. The firm anticipates that consumers will pay for just 5 percent of apps at the point of download in 2017, declining from 6.1 percent this year.

Mobile games will generate at least 40 percent of all downloads in 2017, Juniper believes, adding that app stores will take steps to bolster stickiness by developing social functions around mobile gameplay. Case in point: The fledgling Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play Game Services, which allows for real-time multiplayer games and leaderboards across the company's own Android platform as well as Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rival iOS and the Web.

The prevalence of the free-to-play pricing model as well as the dominance of storefronts like Apple's App Store and Google Play poses increasing monetization challenges for developers as well as mobile network operators, Juniper notes. "Carrier billing has become an increasingly viable option for MNOs who want to see a share of app store revenues, and also for app stores who want to distribute their content to unbanked consumers," said report author Siân Rowlands. "However, MNOs must realize they won't see as great a revenue share as they did during the pre-app store era."

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