The market for mobile handset applications is primed to take off over the next few years, according to an analyst report.
Research firm Futuresource predicts that the mobile app market will generate $15bn (£9.2bn) by 2013 from the sale and download of 16.2 billion applications.
The company said that 2010 will see downloads jump from 3.6 billion to more than 6.6 billion, while revenues are expected to hit $4.6bn (£2.8bn).
The analysts acknowledge that the solid majority of app downloads are free, but believe that companies will find other ways to make money from mobile applications.
"Despite this glut of free content, the market will still experience vigorous consumer spending, and the paid-for market has already developed beyond the established gaming segment," said Patrik Pfandler, analyst at Futuresource.
"Our forecasts are showing global revenues of $4.6bn [£2.8bn] this year, rising to nearly $15bn [£9.2bn] in 2013, which includes payments for direct pay-per-download and indirect value-add services like in-app payments and subscriptions."
Pfandler suggested that gaining visibility in a crowded market will be the big challenge for developers and vendors, while the rise of connected appliances such as television sets could open new markets for apps developers.
"Word of mouth and viral campaigns are the key methods of directing users towards particular apps and app stores," he said.
"Smartphone users are browsing apps charts, but are also responding to mobile ads and ads embedded within their existing apps, as well as reacting favourably to more traditional online, television and even print advertising."
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