18bn mobile app downloads in 2011 and $3.7bn paid revenues according to analyst.
Global mobile app downloads will grow by 144% this year to reach 18 billion, according to the latest report from analyst firm Ovum, which also predicts that this will increase to 45 billion by 2016.
The company also thinks that revenues from paid mobile apps will top $3.7 billion in 2011, up 92% from $1.95 billion last year. It expects this to increase to $7.7 billion in 2016.
Ovum also thinks that more apps will be downloaded on Android phones - 8.1 billion - than iPhone's six billion. It also thinks the gap will continue to widen over the coming years, and that by 2016 Android will have 21.8 billion annual app downloads versus 11.6 billion for iPhone.
However, it thinks iPhone will generate $2.86 billion of paid app revenues that year, versus $1.5 billion for Android. The company also predicts that Windows Phone will overtake BlackBerry to take third place for both downloads and revenues by 2016. Ovum's reference to 'mobile phone apps' presumably means it is not including tablet apps in its predictions.
Ovum's Eden Zoller thinks quality will be a key factor driving the apps market in the next five years. "There is less tolerance for second-rate applications and this is making consumers increasingly more selective and discerning. This will affect the number of downloads going forward and also how much, if anything, they will be prepared to pay for applications."
Meanwhile, the company does not think the rise of HTML5 web apps poses a serious threat to the various app stores. "App stores offer a familiar environment for consumer to discover, download and purchase apps, and we anticipate that the majority of app stores will list a mix of both HTML5 and native applications in their catalogues in the future," says devices analyst Nick Dillon.