Apple bet big on the App Store—and 350,000 apps later, competitors are struggling to catch up. Now, there's Google's Android Market, BlackBerry's App World, HP's Palm App Catalog, and Microsoft's Apps Marketplace. But while Apple still leads the pack with an astonishing 82.7% market share, the app race is far from over.
According to a new report by Forrester Research, the app market will explode to a $38 billion industry by 2015, riding the huge growth in popularity of mobile devices from smartphones to tablets to whatever Apple dreams up next. In 2010, apps on these devices pulled in $1.7 billion globally, meaning the market will blossom exponentially in the coming years.
"The explosion of app development that started on the iPhone only scratches the surface of what's about to emerge," the report says.
What's more, the average cost of paid apps is only $2.43, with just 33% of smartphone users downloading apps on a monthly basis, says Forrester. Once more smartphones from Google, Microsoft, and RIM roll out, and more tablets from Motorola and Samsung, app sales and volume will only increase.
The question now is whether any of those competitors will be able to catch up to Apple by 2015, or whether they'll only create a fractured marketplace. And if Apple were able to retain just a 50% market share in the coming years, it'd be pulling in close to $20 billion from app sales—roughly a third of its current total annual revenues.