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Mobile application developers are in for busy times ahead.

According to a recent report by In-Stat, mobile phone manufacturers
will be pumping more than 100 million mobile app store-compatible
phones into the market within five years.

That’s 100 million phones capable of downloading mobile applications
of every ilk, and that’s good news for mobile application developers.

The research points to Apple iPhone users as the most active mobile
app store users, significantly outpacing users of BlackBerry, Palm OS
or Windows Mobile phones. However, as more enterprises adopt the
smartphone as a must-have business tool and more enterprise
applications are created for mobile devices, future usage is forecast
to be driven equally by business applications.

However, when it comes to mobile marketing, current application
marketing “lacks consistent, accepted analytics many advertisers are
accustomed to,” according to the report – a problem shared by most new
forms of advertising media. With the expected glut of new applications
hitting mobile app stores, developers and marketers must come up with
ways of differentiating their product and getting it noticed.

“With greater capabilities in both running native applications and
viewing ‘real Internet’ Websites, smartphones have increased usage and
user expectations for mobile content,” said David Chamberlain, In-Stat
analyst in a prepared release. “Along with the expanding handset base,
users are downloading more applications. Reach for marketing
applications is growing rapidly and those applications can provide
prolonged engagement with the user and keep the advertiser’s brand in
focus.”

Mobile application stores seem to be hogging the mobility spotlight.
During the GSMA World Mobile Congress in Barcelona in February, Nokia
and Microsoft both announced their intentions to open an online
applications marketplace available directly on their devices.

Service carriers such as Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile all have
versions of online app stores, but the trend is now turning toward
manufacturers offering downloadable apps.

Michele Pelino, senior analyst at Forrester Research, noted that the
actions of the mobile hardware and software vendors reflect a natural
progression of the technology.

“They realize there isn’t a seamless way for apps to go across all
vendors,” she said. “Because of the fragmentation of the market, there
is no easy way to write one application that will work on every device,
and they recognize their devices are only as valuable as the
applications you can use with it.

“Vendors recognize they have to have the devices out there, they
have to have the applications created by third-party vendors, and they
have to have these applications all in one place – that is the real
benefit of having these sites,” she said.