Consultant In-Stat just released a new forecast: It believes the number of potential mobile app store users could quadruple within five years. Some 100 million handsets that will be shipped in the next half a decade will be tied to application markets like Apple’s App Store, according to In-Stat.
What I want to point out is, a user of an app store-enabled phone may not necessarily shop in that store. Not all app stores are created equal. iPhone users are downloading from the App Store like crazy. But users of Windows Mobile-based devices download a lot fewer applications. And whether users will love or hate new stores like BlackBerry App World, Android Market and Microsoft’s new, upcoming store remains to be seen. While a device may be capable of accessing an app store, its owner may opt to take a pass.
For an app store to be successful, it has to be able to attract a large community of software developers, to put our cool new applications. The store must be easy to search and to navigate. The apps must be easy to pay for. While all that sounds easy, it’s not. My bet is that many of the app stores that open their doors in the coming months won’t be able to generate enough developer and consumer traffic and will close up within a few years.