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Tech 24

The big business of little apps

This week on Tech 24 hosts Rebecca Bowring and Eric Olander explore how those little apps on your mobile phone are now a very big business. Also, a sneak peek at the highly anticipated Nintendo 3DS portable game player.

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Just a few years ago, barely anyone had ever heard of an "app." Sure, there were lots of software applications that came in plastic shrink-wrapped carboard boxes filled with CDs that were installed on a desktop PC, but the concept of an "app" was still unknown. Today, the business of selling software is rapidly moving away from those bulky boxes to small, nimble programs that are downloaded directly to phones, tablets and eventually any internet-connected device.

Since the launch of Apple's App store on July  11, 2008, over 10 billion applications have been downloaded. While Apple pioneered the mobile applications market, it now faces surging competition from rivals Google and its Android Market, Blackberry's App World and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace.

While the vast majority of the apps available in these stores are free, a growing number of companies are generating billions of dollars in fees from either downloading feature-enhanced paid versions of the applications or services derived from these apps (such as newspaper and magazine subscriptions). In fact, the mobile app market is growing so fast that by 2015, the US-based Forrester Research predicts mobile app revenue will reach 38 billion dollars.

 

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