Yankee Group: By 2015 32% of all apps downloaded will be paid versions; operator building to explode

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According to the analysts at Yankee Group 27% of all applications downloaded in 2010 were paid for. That number actually surprised us since we thought it’d be much lower. More impressive is the prediction that by 2015 that number is set to increase to 32%, meaning that nearly 1 out of every 3 applications downloaded will make someone some money. But how exactly are people paying for these apps? In 2010 only 7% of paid applications were paid for using operator billing, which is rather pathetic if you think about how hard Google and Nokia have been working to get their respective app stores integrated with the billing systems of various operators. The Yankee Group folks say that all that hard work will pay off by 2015 when one in four paid applications, 25%, will be placed on the bill your operator mails you every month.

So you as a developer, which countries should you be selling your apps in? Ideally everywhere, but if you had to focus on a specific territory then think Asia. “The mobile app gold rush is truly a global phenomenon,” says Jason Armitage, Yankee Group Senior Analyst and Forecast Lead. “Yankee Group forecasts show that while the U.S. accounted for 94 percent of downloads in 2008, three years later it commands only a third, and Asia-Pacific generates nearly half. We see that trend continuing well into 2015.”

How big of a pie are we talking about here? Roughly $36 billion will be spent on apps in 2015. Games and social networking applications will be the largest revenue generators, which is rather obvious. The folks who made Angry Birds need to rent additional office space to store the money that they’re getting every time they cash a check from Apple, but don’t think that making it is going to be an easy task. Just look at the App Store or Android Market and see what sort of stuff people actually pay for; notice the lack of farting apps?

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