Mobile apps are software applications designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. They are typically available through native distribution platforms called app stores. App stores are usually operated by the owners of the mobile operating system but third-party app stores such as the Amazon Appstore or Samsung's Galaxy Apps also exist. The most popular operating system-native stores are the Apple App Store, Google Play, as well as the Windows Phone Store.
Whereas most apps are free, some are only available as paid downloads. Monetization of free-to-download mobile apps through in-app commerce or advertising is becoming more and more prevalent among app developers. In 2020, in-app advertising is set to generate close to 66 billion U.S. dollars in worldwide app revenues. For paid mobile apps, a share of the revenue goes to the distributor and the rest to the app developer. App revenue and monetization potential can vary by geographical region and by operating system. As of 2016, consumers in the Asia Pacific region spent the most money on mobile apps and this trend is set to continue throughout 2021.
Whereas mobile apps were originally offered as productivity and information retrieval tools such as calendars, e-mail, stock market and weather information, the market has rapidly expanded due to public demand and availability of developer tools. Currently, some of the most popular app categories include games, entertainment and education. In 2016, consumers spent 50.4 billion U.S. dollars on gaming apps. This spending is projected to increase to 105.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2021.
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