Growth in mobile applications: On their own, mobile applications may not become big moneyspinners

Some fight wars with words, others with numbers. Hardly a day passes without new data on mobile apps, the small applications that can be downloaded to smart-phones to perform all kinds of feats, such as accessing social networks, playing games and identifying unknown music. Apple recently announced that its App Store now offers 225,000 apps, which collectively have been downloaded 5 billion times. Android Market, the storefront for the operating system that powers many other smart-phones, now boasts 60,000 apps and is catching up fast. And GetJar, an independent mobile store that offers programs for all kinds of handsets, claims 72,000 apps and 1 billion downloads.As this is all part of the ongoing “platform war” between different mobile operating systems, the numbers should be taken with several grains of salt. The more the numbers are puffed up, not least with some double-counting, the more users and developers the respective app stores hope to attract. Ilja Laurs, GetJar’s chief executive, admits that his tally includes different versions of the same software — because this is industry practice. What is more, many apps are the mobile equivalent of marketing: they are given away to tout other wares. On June 15th Apple even released an app that lets users order the latest version of its own iPhone. Others apps are labours of love that have been put out free by passionate developers.To read this report in The Economist in full, see:

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