Apple, with the iPad, has lit the fuse on an entirely new category of mobile devices: the tablet. Everyone from gamers to developers (even, ostensibly, dead communist leaders) are pondering its possibilities — especially publishers and media barons, who see a savior when it comes to helping readers find, consume and buy media.
At the heart of this opportunity lies the app. With a significant number of the 150,000 apps in Apple’s App Store set to be available on the iPad from day one, the market for paid tablet apps alone is expected to top $8 billion within just five years.
It wasn’t too long ago that the term “app” conjured up images of fried finger food, not software. But that all changed when Apple introduced its App Store for the iPhone and ushered in the modern day mobile app economy.
And now that economy is set to grow even larger with the launch of the iPad. As I’ve detailed in a new report on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d), tablet app downloads and consumption will be significant.
How big do I forecast the market for tablet apps will be?
- The paid web tablet app market will grow to top $8 billion by 2015 from just $183 million in 2010
- Downloads of paid apps will represent a bigger percentage of the overall app pie as compared to those for phones. In 2011, 179 million paid apps will be downloaded, and by 2013 that number will reach 630 million.
- Downloads of apps (both paid and free/ad-supported) will grow to total more than 12 billion by 2015 from 272 million in 2010
And remember: That $8 billion is only for paid apps on tablets. When you consider that other forms of app monetization will include advertising (why Apple bought Quattro Wireless) and free apps tied to content subscriptions (think Netflix Watch Instantly) or content downloads (such as, say, a Kindle app), the web tablet app economy will actually be much bigger.
Will this market be Apple’s alone? Of course not. In fact, I expect both Google and Microsoft to offer strong alternatives. That said, I forecast Apple and the iPad to be the web tablet market share leader throughout the forecast period. By 2015, I expect the web tablet market to be a 43-million-unit-per-year market.