Global mobile app downloads will grow 117% to 17.7 billion in 2011, generating $15.1 billion (€11 billion) in revenues for store owners and developers, Gartner predicts.
Revenues will grow from $5.2 billion in 2010 as more consumers select paid-for apps in 2011, and developers glean increased income from in-app advertising, the research firm forecasts.
The rise in paid-for apps will be fuelled by growing consumer perception of the value of mobile applications, and greater trust in billing mechanisms.
As a result, the volume of free apps downloaded will fall to 81% in 2011, though the firm expects the percentage to begin growing again in 2012.
"We strongly believe there is a sizable opportunity for application stores in the future. However, applications will have to grow up and deliver a superior experience to the one that a Web-based app will be able to deliver,” research director Stephanie Baghdassarian notes.
Alternative stores from Google, Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and Samsung gained traction during 2010, closing the gap to Apple’s dominant App Store, which the firm estimates generated nine out of ten downloads in 2010.
Gartner principal analyst Carolina Milanesi predicts tablet PCs will generate a growing number of downloads in the years to 2014, stealing the thunder from smartphones that have fuelled the market to-date.
In-app advertising is forecast to generate just shy of 33% of revenues by 2014 – double the 16% of 2010.