App icons flying out of an iPhone

Billions and billions of customers served

While apps didn’t hit the 13 billion mark in the article I wrote in October (they did hit 10 billion in January ’11 so frankly, that’s close enough), some equally staggering stats have come out about Apps.

  • An estimated 4.5 billion apps sold in 2010, generating $6.8 billion in revenue
  • An estimated 15 billion apps sold in 2011, generating $19.7 billion in revenue
  • An estimated 21.6 billion apps sold in 2013, generating $29.5 billion in revenue
  • Of the nearly 400,000 apps live in May 2011, 62% are paid

While the numbers originally estimated in this October article were off, I believe the argument still stands.  Do you?

Here’s the original article:

I saw  on Gizmodo that 6.3 billion Apps from Apple’s App Store have been downloaded in just over 2 years. It took 5 years for music downloads from iTunes to reach this level.  This works out to be around 17 million apps downloaded each and everyday.

At this rate, the number of downloaded apps is estimated to reach 13 billion by the end of this year, the same as the number of songs downloaded from iTunes by the end of the year.  The fact that apps are reaching this big number at twice the speed of music downloads is pretty remarkable.

As a result, I’m beginning to buy Chris Andersen’s article in Wired Magazine where he argues the Web is Dead. My brutal oversimplification of his argument is that the days of active surfing and engagement with the Internet where a user seeks out information is rapidly coming to an end.
As more and more people are migrating from the desktop browser experience to a mobile phone – from desk to pocket; more and more people are opting to select applications that do all the work for them.

The mobile medium simply isn’t conducive to yesterday’s typing, browsing and clicking on a big display at our desks.  With the rich assortment of thoughtfully designed apps available users are doing what comes naturally and following the path of least resistance.

So what does this mean for digital entertainment?

Look at the dozens of music apps that have sprung up on your mobile in your pocket to create resistance-free music experiences.

Take Pandora, Spotify, Last.fm, Y! Music, MOG, Rdio and others and you’ll see the music experience is different than just turning the radio on.
Just type in a song and relevant playlists are streamed to you – there is no need to download or pay for another song again.  While established artists like Lady Gaga are creating apps (LINK) to distribute gossip and new music, other musicians are marketing their stuff as “wrapping” in other interactive music-making apps like RjDj.

Needless to say, the music business is being challenged to create new models that must leverage apps.

In the video space, the battleground is the living room.  Embedded services in the form of Widgets are showing up in the new Internet-enabled TVs. Manufacturers like Samsung, Vizio, Sony, LG and others are leveraging either proprietary or Yahoo! Widget platforms to vie for your attention in the living room.

Netflix, surprise surprise, appears to be leading in the video app space.  However, a space that is ripe with opportunity seems to be in your pocket (that sounds unnecessarily gross – but you get the point).

Besides its TV and Internet enabled devices, Netflix’s Watch Instantly addition to the mobile app space allows viewers to stream from their queue (list of films) to enabled mobile devices.  They also just snuck on to the new Apple TV. Additionally, Apple TV’s Airplay will be interesting when in debuts in November bringing new ways to move video around the home.

Final thoughts

All of this activity points to the importance that the digital media business (namely studios and labels) create content apps that can bring content to wherever you may be, including both your living room and your pockets.

No matter where you are, it had better be as easy as clicking on an app icon and immediately delivering engaging and up to date content experiences.

Don’t you think?

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