Middle East app market looks to capitalise on improving mobile infrastructure

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By Steven Bond, Reporter  www.ameinfo.com

The mobile app market is expected to exceed $66bn in four years, more than double the $31bn total of 2011, according to a report by Juniper Research. As mobile applications begin to permeate Middle East daily life, in terms of both social and business use, experts say it will be consumer demand that drives the market.

Within the forecasted period, 87% of all apps will be downloaded free of charge, with revenues derived from alternative strategies, including sponsorships, in-app purchases or lead generation. One in four of app downloads are expected to be via tablet devices, providing further opportunities for developers to tailor apps to niche demographics.

Alex Rauser, CEO of Prototype Interactive, told AMEinfo.com that app development had, over the last 18 months quickly grown to become 30% of the company’s digital branding and solutions workload. But, as clients led the charge to gain an edge in the booming mobile space, mobile web is still just as vital.

“If you compare traffic from mobile apps and websites, you still need your website first, technically, before the mobile app. I don’t think you could sustain a business that is just a mobile app [interface], unless it’s really just mobile specific – like Instagram. That’s a pure mobile solution.”

Instagram, a photo-sharing application that allows the user to edit and upload pictures to social networking sites, was acquired this week by Facebook in a $1bn deal. The purchase has sent shockwaves around the tech world, highlighting the true potential within the market.

When it comes to the synergy, or juxtaposition of mobile apps and web, ZeroWire Labs’ co-CEO has a different take. Speaking to AMEinfo.com directly after his session at the Middle East Summit on Mobile Computing in Dubai, Mohamed Ali viewed the two in competition: “I think we’re just going to watch a battle. The one that’s more convenient to the user and to the providers is the one that’s going to win in the end.” More info