By Ben Simmons

As the mobile community gathers in Barcelona for the final day of the 2012 Mobile World Congress, an increasingly important topic is over the best way to monetise mobile applications.

The recent Strategy Analytics Wireless Media Lab buyer analysis which evaluates the results of a web survey investigating the number of applications smartphone owners have downloaded, prices paid and frequency of use, “[i]Android Owners Download Higher Proportion of Free Apps than Apple and BlackBerry Owners,” shows that 83% of all downloaded smartphone applications are cost-free.

While the average number of downloaded smartphone applications in Western Europe continues to rise, the average number downloaded in the US has declined slightly since 2010.

“Along with the rising total number of installed apps, the proportion of free apps being installed is also on the rise,” said Christopher Dodge, Senior Analyst in the Strategy Analytics User Experience Practice. “With very few customers paying for apps at all, application offerings should be seen as a customer retention tool rather than a stream for revenue generation”.

Paul Brown, a Director in the Strategy Analytics User Experience Practice, added, “To make money from app distribution, companies need to focus on the kind of killer app that will gain a long term place in a store’s ‘Top Paid’ category. Alternatively, revenue generation may come from the `freemium' model, or ad-supported apps.”

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