About 40.1 billion of the total app downloads for the current year will be comprised of users seeking to enjoy apps for free, Gartner said.
Device owners, however, will also train their sight on apps that is priced below $3, according to Gartner research director Sandy Shen, adding that around 90 per cent of paid apps that will be obtained in the year are tagged no more than the $3-mark.
"Similar to free apps, lower-priced apps will drive the majority of downloads. Apps between 99 cents and $2.99 will account for 87.5 percent of paid-for downloads in 2012, and 96 percent by 2016," Ms Shen said in the report.
It is expected that free apps download will further explode from its current level of 88.4 per cent to 92 per cent by 2016, indicating that growth in the mobile device market is highly dependent on satisfactory user experience in a given platform ecosystem.
"Apps performance and design will always be the most important factor when attracting new users and keeping them satisfied," the Gartner report said.
Equally noticeable at the moment is the emergence of in-app purchases, a model that is currently employed by Amazon and which Gartner said "will drive 41 per cent of (apps) store revenue in 2016."
This approach initially attracts users that were lured by freebies but will end up as customers willing to fork out some cash because of "good user experience and continued product updates," the Gartner report said.
It would be wise, according to Gartner's Brian Blau, to "support in-app purchases as soon as possible as this offers a new path of monetization," for mobile computing market players.
Another benefit from the tactic, he added, is it "helps to attract developers as they attempt to extend an app's momentum by providing easy access to upgraded services and functionality."
At the moment, considered as the top performer in the raging ecosystem battle is Apple's App Store, which Gartner said controls about a quarter of the total apps that are available for access by the millions of mobile gadgets currently deployed around the world.
Google Play comes next, together with third-party Android apps markets that were being maintained by Android device vendors and other service providers.
Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace has been gaining ground and is expected to gather more steam in the quarters and years ahead following the impending release of Windows 8 and gadgets that will be powered by the reinvigorated multi-platform OS, the Gartner report showed.
Fast-rising are stores by Amazon and Facebook, which Mr Blau said were boosted by their in-app purchase offerings and the global brand recall that they enjoy.
Facebook's "leading position in social networking and gaming," will indeed work on its favour in attracting more users on its newly-unveiled App Centre, Ms Shen said.
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