App Store Users to Quadruple? Not So Fast

Posted by: Olga Kharif on March 24, 2009

Consultant In-Stat just released a new forecast: It believes the number of potential mobile app store users could quadruple within five years. Some 100 million handsets that will be shipped in the next half a decade will be tied to application markets like Apple’s App Store, according to In-Stat.

What I want to point out is, a user of an app store-enabled phone may not necessarily shop in that store. Not all app stores are created equal. iPhone users are downloading from the App Store like crazy. But users of Windows Mobile-based devices download a lot fewer applications. And whether users will love or hate new stores like BlackBerry App World, Android Market and Microsoft’s new, upcoming store remains to be seen. While a device may be capable of accessing an app store, its owner may opt to take a pass.

For an app store to be successful, it has to be able to attract a large community of software developers, to put our cool new applications. The store must be easy to search and to navigate. The apps must be easy to pay for. While all that sounds easy, it’s not. My bet is that many of the app stores that open their doors in the coming months won’t be able to generate enough developer and consumer traffic and will close up within a few years.

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Reader Comments

pk de cville

March 24, 2009 07:28 PM

Since Apple, itself, will ship over 100mm handsets in the next 5 years, quadrupling will be easy.

Counting the various models of iPhones and iPod touches, we'll probably see over 150mm. Add to that, 100mm HD touches (larger in size).

Finally, Apple will move SW distro for the Mac OS into an App Store and we can expect a total of 100mm Macs w/in 5 years.

Quadrupling for Apple will be easy. The rest of the industry ought to be able to match current measures by then.

F

March 26, 2009 08:08 AM

And never happened the announced expansion to 77 countries.

M Bramblett

March 26, 2009 09:37 AM

Can someone clarify what InStat means by a device tied to an applications store? Do they mean an onboard link to a manufacturer's portal like Apple or RIM? Conflicting numbers exist among research firms, already placing annual shipments of smartphones running Symbian, OS X, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Linux (incl Android) at between 140 million and 170 million for 2008. These firms include Gartner, Strategy Analytics, ABI and others. Why does Instat forecast it taking until 2013 to get to the same number? Also, companies like Handango, Handmark, Pocketgear and others already power well over 50 sites where you can buy apps to download to your phone. Any further insight on this is appreciated.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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