ABI Research Surprises With Pessimistic Projections on App Downloads

According to the latest projections from venerable research giant ABI Research, global mobile app downloads may see a surprising dip in coming years.

The world’s smartphone subscribers will download about 36 billion apps in 2012, resulting in almost 37 native apps through the year for the average smartphone subscriber, ABI says. For now, that’s a positive sign of growth. After all, the forecast reflects a 6% global increase to the 35 apps downloaded per smartphone subscriber on average in 2011.

But the trend will then reverse, the report estimates.

Despite the increase against 2011, ABI Research senior analyst Aapo Markkanen believes the average download count will not increase substantially over the coming years. Rather, it is likelier to start modestly decreasing.

“When forecasting on app downloads one has to make a number of assumptions on, for instance, the device mix, developer activity, and the demographics of existing and future smartphone users,” Markkanen writes. “The next waves of smartphone subscribers in the more mature app markets of the United States, Western Europe, and parts of Asia will be downloading quite notably fewer apps than, say, the first one-third of the mobile consumers who bought smartphones.”

One of the major reasons cited for the slowdown in app downloads is the evolution of mobile web.