Five reasons mobile apps rule

A new report says revenue from mobile apps will grow sharply in the next few years. Here are a few reasons why.

The mobile app craze, which was started by Apple's iPhone and has been perpetuated by any smartphone worth its plastic, shows no signs of slowing down, according to Gartner. The market researcher says mobile app revenue, which equaled $US4.2 billion last year, will hit $US29.5 billion in 2013. For consumers, that's a good thing, because mobile apps rule. There's been some talk of Web apps eventually killing off the downloadable app market, and that may hold true in the long, long run. But, right now, mobile apps rule. Here are five reasons why.

Online, offline

Mobile apps are great at bridging the gap between the Web and offline computing. Take, for instance, a simple game like Paper Toss: You can play it on the airplane until your flicking finger is sore, but once on the Web you can upload your high score for all to see. Same goes for document editors with online collaboration tools.

Working with your phone

The mobile Skype app can pull phone numbers from your contacts list; the Android app Locale can set your phone's background, ring tone and other settings depending on where you are or how much battery life remains; Yelp can use your phone's GPS to find nearby restaurants. These mobile apps are not merely independent entities, but extensions of the phone's core functionality.

Easy billing

When your phone has one app store, you have one payment process, whether it's iTunes or Google Checkout. Once you've set up an account with that store, buying new apps requires little effort. That's great for business, but convenient for users as well.

Competitive marketplace

When mobile apps compete in a large marketplace, you win. Discounts, giveaways, and survival of the fittest are the norm as app developers clamor to get noticed, and there's rarely a shortage of user reviews (however flawed) to vet each purchase.

Beefy updates

Ever check the list of changes in updates for your existing mobile apps? Sometimes they're so substantial, it's like getting an entirely new product. This is an extension of the competitive marketplace, where app developers are so eager to stay fresh that their products are constantly improving.

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