These findings are part of research2guidances latest report Smartphone App Market Monitor Vol.5 2011.
The year 2010 was a watershed year for app store openings more than 30 with many MNOs and OEMs aiming to provide app stores with a full range of native apps. Only a few of those new entrants in 2010, however, have since managed to attract enough developer attention.
In 2011 the app store market for full catalogue stores largely settled, with only a few new entrants (excluding the market for niche stores). Some stores, which may have looked promising in 2010, succumbed to market pressures and closed, combined their offerings, or were slowly fizzling out at the close of 2011.
The Apple App Store and the Android Market (now Google Play), however, continued to gain momentum during 2011. They both added a significant amount of content and attracted increasing numbers of downloads more than 1 billion per month each by Q4 2011.
Looking ahead, 2012 will likely see more consolidation:
The app store duopoly is growing: The Apple App Store and Google Play (Android Marketplace) show no signs of slowing as the number of apps, users and download numbers continue to snowball.
More stores will exit the market: Microsoft has already announced it will shut down the Windows Store for Mobile altogether in May to focus on the Windows Marketplace. Other stores e.g. Mobihand have appeared to be under financial duress and are looking for new monetization strategies or to be acquired.
At this point, any new market entrant will need to provide something fundamentally different to what Apple and Google are offering, or invest a significant amount of money (e.g. Microsofts investment in the development of the Windows Phone Marketplace).
One possibility for new entrants is to target niche segments of the market. Niche app stores blossomed in 2011, numbering near 100 by the end of the year. The focus of these stores range from OS-specific, to quality curation to consumer groups like Enterprises.
Another possibility for entrants may be through web apps stores facilitated by the development of mobile browsers. As of late February, Mozilla opened its platform independent Mozilla Marketplace to developer submissions of HTML5 web apps. While this store will essentially compete with Googles Chrome Web Store, it also complements Mozillas planned release of its own smartphone based on its Boot to Gecko (B2G) web engine. As the entire phone's native device capabilities will be accessible using HTML5, web apps will not lack functionality.
At this point, the release of the Mozilla phone is planned for regions where existing smartphones are largely too expensive. However, depending on the capabilities and success of the phone as well as Mozillas ability to have B2G technologies standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium (the primary international standards organization for the world wide web), the Mozilla Marketplace (and possibly Googles Chrome Web Store) could become a considerable force in the app store market.
To have a deeper look into the app market world, including metrics and analysis on full catalogue and niche app stores, please find our latest research report, Smartphone App Market Monitor Vol.5.
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