Mobile Technology

Smartphone Apps: Cashing in

24th June 2013

The number of smartphone users has risen dramatically over the past few years and as a result manufacturers are producing mobile devices that are more functional than ever.

As a result, when purchasing a smartphone there’re an abundance of elements to consider, aside from the basic specs. One such factor is the availability of apps – the more that are on hand at the tap of a button the more likely users are to buy into that specific mobile platform.

Dave Addey, founder of Agant, which developed the UK Train Times app, said: “Desktop software used to be complex and would do lots of things. Now we think of apps as doing one thing really well.”

Last month Apple announced that 50 billion apps have now been downloaded from its App Store, since it opened in July 2008. Apple’s biggest competitor, Google Play, isn’t too far behind, revealing that during May it witnessed its 48 billionth download.

These figures alone not only highlight the huge popularity of these third-party applications but also the profitability of this quickly growing market.

Growing demand

Across Apple’s and Google’s app stores downloads are currently running around 1,500 per second, a pace which is helping to generate millions of pounds for developers. Even small start-ups are quickly being transformed into hugely successful businesses, and to date Apple has paid out around £5.9bn to developers.

However, this gigantic new economy isn’t just benefiting the app creators, it is also having a positive impact on the companies hosting them. The more apps that are available on a mobile platform the greater the profit it too will rake in. A prime example is Apple, which has pocketed $3.86bn in revenue since the App Store opened to the masses almost six years ago.

Apple and Google each boast between 800,000 and one million apps in their online stores, while Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store houses approximately 145,000 and BlackBerry World has in the region of 120,000. This signals a significant difference and further highlights Google and Apple’s lead in the mobile software space.

While the sheer growth in the number of apps is impressive it creates greater desire from developers to get their apps featuring in the ‘top downloaded’ app charts. To do so they will first approach the larger platforms, often overlooking the likes of Microsoft and BlackBerry.


Having a wide choice of apps is certainly appealing, but many users will frequently download apps then rarely use them. If apps are free then this won’t have an effect on your bank balance, but unless they’re deleted they’ll certainly start having an impact upon your handset’s performance, and even the fastest smartphones could begin to lag if they become clogged up with large, unused files

With the likes of O2 and Vodafone planning to introduce LTE networks for 4G phones along with that already offered by EE, you’ll want your smartphone to be running perfectly to make the most of the new data speeds.
However, even paid apps frequently end up going to waste and smartphone users are throwing away almost £6m a year on impulse buys. On average a British mobile device has around 23 apps installed on it, and less than a third of these are used on a regular basis.
Fitness and cookery aids sit at the top of the list of apps that users download but rarely consult, while language learning, book and travel downloads are also amongst those likely to be used once and then forgotten.

‘Appy Days

App spend is also partly driven by the type of device which is being used – the more apps a manufacturer has to offer the more likely users are to buy into the brand and platform alike. Choice is everything these days and with many people now owning more than one hand-held device this again boosts the number of apps being downloaded.
Analysis firm Mason’s European and US Connected Consumer Survey recently found that tablet owners spend significantly more on smartphone apps than those who don’t have an alternative device to their smartphone.

This has undoubtedly contributed to the app market’s financial success and research company Canalys found that during the first quarter of 2013 both paid and unpaid mobile app downloads in the UK increased by 11% to 13.4 billion.

Right now Apple and Google appear to have something for everyone and in turn this is only going to encourage more potential users to gravitate to its mobile platform. Microsoft and BlackBerry must ensure that they continue to attract as many key applications as possible, otherwise they won’t stand a chance of witnessing anything like the success their rivals have seen to date.

This guest post was written by Sarah Hazelwood of Phones 4u, the home of all the latest mobile phone deals.

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