But monetising apps will still be a challenge, says Berg Insight...
Which mobile platform is best for monetising apps? Apple's iOS will remain the dominant force until 2015, according to analyst Berg Insight, followed by Google's Android platform.
But snatching bronze as the third best way to turn apps into cash in 2015 will be Microsoft's Windows Phone OS, only launched last year.
Last year Apple's App Store generated revenues of €1.33bn - compared to the €80m generated by the Android platform. The analyst predicts Apple's App Store revenues will rise to €4.4bn in 2015, while Android's will swell to almost €1.5bn that year.
The Berg research report, entitled The Mobile Applications Market, notes that app downloads continue to soar: there were around 10 billion app downloads last year across all the mobile platforms - and it predicts this figure will reach 98 billion by 2015.
By 2015, Apple's iOS and Google's Android combined will account for more than 62 per cent of the total number of app downloads, according to Berg. Microsoft's Windows Phone is set to be the third most popular app downloads platform in 2015.
The analyst also predicts that more than 70 per cent of all handsets shipped in 2015 will be smartphones - another factor it says is driving app downloads, along with consumers becoming accustomed to extending the functionality of their handsets via apps.
But despite the app downloads surge, Johan Svanberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight, said most of the mobile apps downloaded will be free apps - making monetisation a continued challenge for developers. Svanberg said this will make 'free to download' monetisation strategies, such as in-app advertising and in-app purchasing, increasingly important to making apps pay.
Berg's report notes that collective revenues from paid applications, in-app purchases and subscription services reached €1.6bn in 2010. The analyst predicts this figure will hit €8.8bn in 2015, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 40.7 per cent.
The market for in-app advertising generated €300m last year, according to Berg. This year it predicts in-app ad revenues will more than double - to hit €750m - and in 2015 they are forecast to generate €3.5bn, corresponding to almost a third (29 per cent) of total app revenues versus 16 per cent in 2010.
The analyst notes that because in-app advertising is "more of a volume game", it predicts Android will surpass iOS in 2012 as the platform that generates most in-app ad revenues.
Berg forecasts that Android will generate more than €1.2bn in in-app ad revenues in 2015, a significant jump from €39m in 2010. Apple's iOS platform generated €230m in 2010 - and is forecast to hit almost €1bn in 2015.
Svanberg also predicts that while web app technologies such as HTML5 are promising future alternatives to native mobile apps, native apps are here to stay, adding that app publishers seeking to maximise their reach should develop mobile web apps as well as building native apps for the major mobile platforms.