The analytics firm Distimo recently released its annual review of the mobile app industry and, by just about every measurable standard, it’s been a very good year.
The fact that nearly every app store in existence doubled in size over the course of the calendar year is remarkable in its own right, in addition to the fact that it bodes exceedingly well for continued growth in the future. Considering the glum conditions plaguing most of the rest of the global economy, one might even begin considering the mobile app industry as “recession-proof.” In any event, with over a million apps and counting available across all platforms, it’s clear that the outlook will remain bright for the foreseeable future.
Growth was explosive in 2011, but perhaps one of the more surprising developments in the mobile app industry this year was the increasing popularity of apps in China. Recognizing China’s potential as an emerging app market, Apple opted to accept the yuan for purchases made in the app store last November. This was likely an effect of China’s interest in apps rather than a cause, but relative to U.S. consumption, China now accounts for 30% of total downloads, up from 18% early in 2011. Where the iPad is concerned, however, Chinese consumers download nearly as many apps as those of in the US. Given that China boasts well over a billion consumers, it’s only a matter of time before total download volumes begin to reflect that.
Distimo’s report also reflects the shifts in monetization models that app developers are exploiting in order to cash in on their products. We’ve recently discussed some of the PR problems facing freemium apps that rely heavily on in-app purchases, but according to the most recent numbers, 48% of the top 200 apps in Apple’s store use the freemium model, up from 29% in January 2011. The growth rate is less impressive for Android, where users tend to shy away from paid applications, but freemium apps nevertheless constitute 65% of the top available apps.
In any case, it’s been a very good year for the mobile app industry, and things are only going to get better. If you’ve got an idea for a mobile app yourself, there’s never been a better time to get into the game…so drop us a line and we’ll get you started.