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Free mobile apps: number of downloads worldwide 2012-2017

This statistic provides information on the number of free mobile apps downloaded from app stores in 2012 and 2013, in billions. A forecast is also offered for the years 2014 to 2017. In 2012, approximately 57.33 billion free apps were downloaded on mobile devices. By 2017, download figures for free mobile apps are projected to reach 253.91 billion.

Free mobile apps – additional information

Free mobile apps initiate a variety of methods to generate revenue which include in app purchases and advertising. Gaming apps are a popular category in any app store and in 2014, game developers were asked; ‘Which advertising companies are most effective at maximizing revenue?’ During the survey, which took place in April of that year, 15 percent of respondents found Google to be the most effective advertising company. Google topped the list, but Chartboost, which was founded in 2011, came in at second place with 11 percent of game developers saying it was the most effective company for advertising.
Aside from advertising, free apps also come with optional upgrades with appealing additional features in order to generate revenue. In March 2014, mobile app users from the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and United Kingdom were assessed as to whether or not they had upgraded from a free app to a paid version. The results revealed that 34 percent of smartphone users from the five selected countries had upgraded from a free app to a paid app. This suggests that paid app upgrades may not have had enough appeal to make users part with their money.
In the Google Play Store, which is one the world’s leading app stores, the number of paid apps available has declined in the recent past. The distribution of free and paid Android apps was documented between 2009 and 2014. In 2009, 39.2 percent of all Android apps were free, but by 2014, this share had dropped to 31.2 percent of the market. The emerging trend suggests that free apps will continue to dominate the market in the future.

Number of free mobile app downloads worldwide from 2012 to 2017

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Release date

September 2013



Survey time period

2012 and 2013

Supplementary notes

* Forecast

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