A new report from Gartner says consumers will spend $6.2 billion (just over £4 billion) in mobile application stores this year, up from last year's $4.2 billion. The total number of downloads – of which around 80% are expected to be free – will rise from 2.5 billion last year to 4.5 billion this year.
That figure will continue to grow, reaching 21.6 billion downloads worth $21 billion in 2013 – even though the proportion of free downloads is expected to increase.
Gartner's revenue forecast includes end-user spending on advertising-sponsored free applications as well as conventional paid-for applications. Advertising-sponsored mobile applications are expected to generate almost 25% of app store revenue by 2013.
Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner, said "As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment with application downloads. Growth in smartphone sales will not necessarily mean that consumers will spend more money, but it will widen the addressable market for an offering that will be advertising-funded."