Mobile App Downloads Are Soaring!

New industry research this week validates our own predictions here at Fiksu that mobile app downloads have officially taken off and will continue to soar in the next few years. Today, both Apple and Google are each enjoying one billion app downloads per month, and it's only going to skyrocket from here. We highlight these new findings from both IDC and Canalys, as well as other important industry buzz including Facebook's rumored plans to become a mobile app platform, in this week's Fiksu Feed.

In a new report, IDC forecasts that people will download more than 182 billion mobile apps by 2015. That is a huge surge from the 10.7 billion apps downloaded in 2010, according to analyst Scott Ellison, the author of the report. But according to Ellison, more interesting than the sheer volume of app downloads will be the way that app developers monetize the apps in the future. He predicts that the current shift toward monetizing through in-app purchases will require app developers to think differently about how their business models must, by definition, engage users, both within the app itself and over time. For more details, check out PC World's take here.

On Wednesday, Canalys also announced predictions that app store direct revenue from the sale of apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions across smartphones and tablets combined will hit $14.1 billion next year, up 92 percent from an expected $7.3 billion in 2011, and will reach $36.7 billion by 2015. According to the analyst firm, this projected revenue growth presents an opportunity for mobile network operators (MNOs) to compete with vendor app stores. It'll be interesting to watch how these predictions play out.

In other news, details have emerged recently about Facebook's rumored designs to become a mobile app platform. It is said to be building an HTML5-based platform that will allow the company to provide an app-like experience that runs entirely over the Web within a mobile browser. Liz Gannes at AllThingsD wrote an interesting piece on how Facebook could potentially help mobile app developers with two of their biggest challenges – discovery and retention. But her ultimate take is, when it comes down to it, Facebook's "imagined or real designs" aren't incredibly realistic and instead, the company should focus on what it does best – connecting people.

To wrap things up, here's a reminder of how quickly the tech industry moves – Apple's iPhone turned four years old this week! The iPhone sparked a revolution in the cell phone industry. Now flat, touch-screen slabs are the standard for smartphones worldwide. Similarly, the Apple App Store has transformed smartphone software from an extra, nice-to-have feature to the foundation of any mobile platform. Even as rumors of the next iPhone continue to spread across enthusiast sites, gadget blogs and more, the iPhone 4 continues to be highly imitated and respected as an engineering marvel.

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