A mobile app is a computer program designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.
Apps are usually available through application distribution platforms, which began appearing in 2008 and are typically operated by the owner of the mobile operating system, such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, and BlackBerry App World. Some apps are free, while others must be bought. Usually, they are downloaded from the platform to a target device, such as an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android phone or Windows Phone, but sometimes they can be downloaded to laptops or desktop computers. For apps with a price, generally a percentage, 20-30%, goes to the distribution provider (such as iTunes), and the rest goes to the producer of the app. The same app can therefore cost the average Smartphone user a different price depending on whether they use iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry 10 devices.
The term “app” is a shortening of the term “application software”. It has become very popular and in 2010 was listed as “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society. In 2009, technology columnist David Pogue said that newer smartphones could be nicknamed “app phones” to distinguish them from earlier less-sophisticated smartphones.
Mobile apps were originally offered for general productivity and information retrieval, including email, calendar, contacts, and stock market and weather information. However, public demand and the availability of developer tools drove rapid expansion into other categories, such as mobile games, factory automation, GPS and location-based services, banking, order-tracking, ticket purchases and recently mobile medical apps. The explosion in number and variety of apps made discovery a challenge, which in turn led to the creation of a wide range of review, recommendation, and curation sources, including blogs, magazines, and dedicated online app-discovery services. Recently,[when?] government regulatory agencies have launched initiatives to regulate and curate apps, particularly mobile medical apps.
The popularity of mobile apps has continued to rise, as their usage has become increasingly prevalent across mobile phone users. A May 2012 comScore study reported that during the previous quarter, more mobile subscribers used apps than browsed the web on their devices: 51.1% vs. 49.8% respectively. Researchers found that usage of mobile apps strongly correlates with user context and depends on user’s location and time of the day.
According to market research firm Gartner, 102 billion apps will be downloaded in 2013 (91% of them will be free) but they will still generate US$26 billion, up 44.4% on 2012’s US$18 billion. An analyst report estimates that the app economy creates revenues of more than €10 billion per year within the European Union, while over 529,000 jobs have been created in 28 EU states due to the growth of the app market.