According to new research by Research and Markets (, mobile applications (apps), both free and paid, have experienced exponential growth in recent years.

Pyramid Research is forecasting that this growth curve will continue through 2014, though the mobile apps market will evolve differently in different regions. A key driver of mobile app growth is the app store concept popularized by Apple and subsequently adopted by all the major mobile players, says Research and Markets. Key findings of their study include:

° The impact of application (app) stores on the mobile market should not be understated. We estimate that the total download volume (free and paid) will increase by a factor of seven between 2009 and 2014.

° Although paid apps have increased substantially in volume with the emergence of app stores, free apps have really boomed. In 2010 we project that 36% of paid apps will be downloaded through app stores and 86% of free downloads will take place through them. Advertising revenue as a result has increased substantially, and app stores are working on monetizing this opportunity.

° The mobile apps market will develop in different ways in different regions. These differences are governed by factors such as the penetration of smartphones, share of smartphone platforms (operating systems), operator positioning/strategy and the adoption of different payment methods.

° App stores are an important element in the mobile value chain. A wide range of easily accessible apps has quickly become a prerequisite for handset and platform vendors. Vendors also gain a new revenue stream, a powerful customer loyalty tool, an important gateway to additional revenue streams and an attractive resource for potential operator partnerships.

° Operator app stores have a number of strengths but also face important challenges. Attracting developers is perhaps the most difficult challenge given the lead the vendors have established, platform fragmentation and limited adoption of devices with operator stores enabled.

° Operators need to manage mobile app downloads through their own stores and their on-deck portals. In progressive markets, operators will likely migrate downloads from the portal to their store as quickly as possible and so be able to dismantle their portals to lower costs. However, most operators with their own store will have to manage the portal as well for several years. In less-developed markets, portals will remain the principal mobile app download channel.

° Developers will be the biggest winners, not only as they gain a higher portion of revenue but also because competition among stores will greatly improve support, payment terms and transparency. These factors will be crucial in enabling developers to decrease their costs and focus on creating innovative and entertaining apps.

° Third-party stores and aggregators will lose out more and more to vendor and operator stores. Consolidation has already started, and we believe the focus of third party stores and aggregators should move to partnering with these new competitors rather than competing with them in the direct-to-consumer space. Operators and vendors are simply too well-placed to embed their own stores onto devices, and they have stronger brands. The case of Getjar, however, is unique, given its size and focus on free apps.