The mobile application economy will be worth $17.5 billion by 2012, with much of the growth driven by users in emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa, according to a report (pdf) released earlier this year by Chetan Sharma.
In terms of overall download share, Asia was ranked as the top worldwide market in 2009, and North American users accounted for about half of global mobile app revenues.
But these emerging markets — many of which are "skipping" the broadband revolution altogether and going straight to mobile — will account for the majority of revenue generated by the year 2012.
That's big enough news as it is, but when you look carefully at the numbers, you'll find it's an even larger divide. As Sharma points out in the report, per unit revenues are smaller in emerging markets, for both paid downloads and advertising. Volume, therefore, must not only surpass that of Western markets, but by much more than it would with a comparable pricing structure.
Apps in emerging markets are also very different in nature than those in the Western world. They focus more on productivity, such as Opera Mini and things to protect your phone, like anti-virus apps consumers who don’t have regular fixed-line Internet service, reported GigaOm. There's simply less room economically for consumers to purchase "time-killing casual games."
More highlights from the report:
- Total revenue from mobile apps (which includes both paid downloads and revenue from advertising and virtual goods) is expected to increase from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $17.5 billion by 2012 at the rate of 62% CAGR.
- Though ondeck (operator managed) mobile apps sales exceeded those from offdeck in 2009, by 2012, offdeck is expected to hold the lion share of the mobile apps revenue.
So what's next?
We've seen an explosion of demand for mobile advertising content and platforms, going hand in hand with the mobile app development boom, opening up new revenue streams for developers. Will this also happen in emerging global markets? Will there be a subsequent demand for marketing translation of mobile ad copy?
We're thinking yes...