Analysts from ABI Research certainly don’t view the mobile app sector as a flash in the pan: In a recent report, the firm estimated that by 2016, cumulative downloads of mobile apps will reach 44 billion.
ABI cites a number of factors for the uptick, one being operating systems competitors like Google’s Android and Windows Phone 7 gaining on Apple’s dominance in the app marketplace and in device popularity. Another is simply the sheer number of new smartphones and tablets that are expected to saturate the market, and obviously the users that will buy them and put them to use.
The firm also acknowledges the difficulty of app developers getting noticed in an increasingly crowded marketplace and the need for constant innovation and reinvention of apps approaches—for example, an app called OfferedApp that provides one paid app per day if users agree to complete a survey or sign up for an offer with advertisers.
Innovation in how mobile apps are paid for—including unique advertising models—and how commerce is conducted over them certainly should be a top consideration for app developers. But that’s not the reason consumers buy apps: They buy them for their utility and their uniqueness, and they buy them (most of the time) on the spot because they’re engaging, or because someone recommended them and showed them how they worked. So more than anything, to be a part (and an ever-growing part) of that 44 billion by 2016, mobile app developers need to keep a watchful eye on what people are doing—and in particular, what they aren’t doing but would pay to do.