By 2017, mobile apps will generate revenue of more than $77 billion, making them poised to be one of the most popular computing tools for users globally.
Mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times by 2017, according to a report by Gartner, providing personalized data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day.
"Mobile apps have become the official channel to drive content and services to consumers. From entertainment content to productivity services, from quantified-self to home automation, there is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. "This connection to consumer services means users are constantly funneling data through mobile apps. As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data — what they say, what they do, where they go — that is transforming the app interaction paradigm."
Mobile apps and their uses are still in their infancy, largely used for brands and businesses — including retailers — to reach or engage customers in a direct way. Free apps are the most common and in 2013, accounted for 92 percent of app downloads. These users are providing a treasure trove of data and often accept advertising or data connectivity in exchange for the free app, according to Gartner.
In fact, 77 percent of consumers would be willing to share their smartphone location data as long as they received enough value in return, according to a study from Swirl Networks and ResearchNow. The study also revealed that consumers are much more likely to entrust their location information to their favorite retailers (65 percent) than to shopping/deals apps, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Facebook (NASDAQ: FB).
As new mobile devices including in-store beacons and wearable devices make more headway, apps will play an even more prominent role.
"In the next three to four years, apps will no longer be simply confined to smartphones and tablets, but will impact a wider set of devices, from home appliances to cars and wearable devices," said Blau. "By 2017, Gartner predicts that wearable devices will drive 50 percent of total app interactions."
-See this Gartner report
-See this Swirl Networks study
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