According to a study commissioned by mobile application store operator GetJar, the mobile application market will reach $17.5 billion by 2012. By then, the number of mobile application downloads will have also grown to nearly 50 billion from just over 7 billion in 2009. Although those numbers may seem high, they line up with other estimates, such as those previously reported by analysts at both Gartner and research2guidance.

The GetJar study, run by independent consulting firm by Chetan Sharma Consulting, noted that over the past year, the number of app stores grew from 8 to 38 and that there are even more in the works. Apple's iTunes store leads the way with a reported 150,000 mobile apps and 3 billion downloads to date. Google's Android marketplace is growing fast as well, and now has more than 30,000 mobile applications that run on devices like the Droid, the myTouch 3G and the Nexus One, among others.

However, as Getjar founder and chief executive officer Ilja Laurs told the BBC, feature phones should not ignored either. "It is almost as if these phones don't exist. We know smartphones are an extremely important phenomenon, but in terms of consumer mindshare and revenue share, feature phones represent 90% of the global market compared to 10% for smartphones and data cards."

He also made the bold prediction that "mobile apps will eclipse the traditional desktop Internet," even going so far as to say that "mobile devices will kill the desktop."

Just the Stats:

Here are a few other highlights from the report (via Paid Content and TechCrunch):

  • The annual growth rate for mobile app downloads is 92%
  • By 2012, off-deck, paid apps will be the biggest source of revenue
  • In 2009, mobile operators accounted for more than 60% of apps' revenue
  • By 2012, mobile operators will account for less than 23% of apps' revenue
  • The app store growth (8 to 38 by 2012) is an increase of 375%
  • Average app selling price is $1.09 in North America, $0.20 in South America and $0.10 in Asia
  • Revenue opportunities in Europe will grow from $1.5 billion in 2009 to $8.5 billion in 2012
  • Revenue opportunities in North America will grow from $2.1 billion to around $6.7 billion in 2012
  • Apps are most popular in Asia where they account for 37% of global downloads this past year
  • Users spent the most for apps in North America where they account for over 50% of revenue

Analysts Agree: Apps are Big Business

A report earlier this year from research firm Gartner predicted that application stores are expected to generate revenues of nearly $7 billion over the course of 2010. That figure is a combination of the $6.2 billion spent purchasing the mobile applications themselves combined with an additional $.6 billion generated through advertising revenues from in-app ads. The Gartner analysts also predicted that mobile application stores' revenue will grow to $29.5 billion by the end of 2013.

Another forecast from research2guidance estimated the smartphone application market will grow from $1.94 billion in 2009 to $15.65 billion by 2013.

Although these aren't exactly apples to apples comparisons, the overall trend is apparent: app stores are growing rapidly and generating massive revenue streams.