Mobile apps to produce $4.2 bil by 2013

Number of smartphone users to quadruple

LONDON -- Research from the Yankee Group estimates that nearly 7 billion U.S. smartphone app downloads will produce $4.2 billion in revenue by 2013.

The number of smartphone users is set to quadruple to 160 million over the same period, resulting an app market "gold rush," Yankee Group said.

In two new reports -- "Forecasting the U.S. Mobile App Gold Rush" and "Which Mobile App Platform Deserves Your Software?" -- the authors recommend that consumer developers should focus on RIM's BlackBerry, where consumer-oriented apps are scarce, while those working on business apps should target Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform.

The research also shows that paid apps will account for one in four app downloads in 2013. And while 99-cent apps are the norm now, the reports suggest that paid apps will cost $2.37 on average by 2013, increasing today's $343 million app download market by more than a factor of 10 over five years to $4.2 billion.

"Apps have been around for years," said Carl Howe, director at Yankee Group and author of the reports. "But app stores have created mass-market products with million-dollar revenue streams attached. Every mobile software developer could be the next Bill Gates for smartphones, but only if they bet on the platforms with the right reach and fit for their application."

Yankee Group based its analysis of purchased applications on a survey of 1,200 consumer smartphone owners.