Number of free and paid mobile app store downloads worldwide from 2011 to 2017 (in billions)

This statistic presents a forecast for free and paid mobile app store downloads worldwide from 2011 to 2017. In 2012, 57.33 billion apps were downloaded for free, whereas paid app downloads amounted to 6.65 billion items. In 2016, free app download volume is projected to grow to 211.31 billion downloads.

App store downloads

Due to the worldwide growth in smartphone and tablet device usage, mobile app downloads are set to expand. Between 2011 and 2016, the compound annual growth rate of app downloads (CAGR) is set to be 52.17 percent.

Mobile apps are small programs designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Apps can be downloaded through operating system-native distribution platforms such as the Play Store for Android devices, iTunes or the Apple App Store for iOS devices. Other native app stores include the re-launched BlackBerry World and the Windows Phone Store. Despite the convenience and popularity of pre-installed system-native app stores, third-party platforms have also been on the rise with Amazon Appstore and Aptoide being two popular examples.

App stores usually collect fees from app developers through sign-up and account payments as well as a commission based on app sales.

The majority of apps are free to download but can be upgraded to paid versions in order to unlock extended features or to hide advertisements. Many mobile gaming apps are also based on a freemium monetization model where the game is free to play but players can buy digital content such as special items or skins in-game in order to enhance the gaming experience.

The Google Play Store for Android apps currently features 67 percent free apps and 33 percent paid apps. Two-thirds of the top grossing Apple iPhone apps are free to download. As of the fourth quarter of 2012, the Google Play Store accounted for 42.64 percent of the worldwide mobile app download volume.

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 Free downloadsPaid-for downloads
2011 22 2.9
2012 57.33 6.65
2013 92.88 9.19
2014* 127.7 11.11
2015* 167.05 12.57
2016* 211.31 13.49
2017* 253.91 14.78
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