App revenues will reach $99bn annually by 2019, researchers say
The app market could be worth $99 billion by 2019, according to Juniper Research. The research group attributes most of those revenues to games, but it also expects "lifestyle applications" and ebooks to contribute to that burgeoning market.
It makes sense for games to account for the lion's share of these revenues. Gaming is already the most lucrative market for both Apple and Google -- that's unlikely to change in the four years between now and Juniper's goal of 2019.
Nor is it surprising that the app market will continue to grow. Pew reports that almost two-thirds of Americans own smartphones, and some 20 percent of American adults only access the wonderful World Wide Web with their phones.
That enthusiasm is matched, and even beat, elsewhere. And it might be other countries that benefit most from this growing market. Juniper notes that consumers in China accounted for 59 percent of app downloads in 2014; that growth might hearten app-makers, but will most of them benefit from this shift?
China's relationship with tech companies is strained. The government has asked for access to tech products under the guise of ensuring its citizens' privacy, it's suspected of attacking various companies, and its rules are amazingly restrictive.
While it would be easy to get excited about the growing app market -- who doesn't want to participate in a sector expected to grow so much in such little time? -- Juniper's conclusions bring up more questions than they answer.
Will companies be willing to compromise their users' security to operate in China? Will the Chinese government offer homegrown companies an advantage over their Western counterparts? And if the answer to both of those questions is "Yes," like I suspect, how long will consumers be willing to accept the situation?
Maybe that's a little dour. But these are important questions to ask about the app market -- especially if it's going to grow as large as Juniper expects. If more people are using smartphones, and apps provide the primary way through which people go online, the answers to these questions will profoundly affect us all.
Unless people really are sick of downloading apps, which would make this whole conversation moot. Unfortunately, neither I, nor Juniper, think that's the case. Someone's going to have to answer these questions before 2019 rolls around.