Only a tiny fraction of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers through to 2018, according to a new report from Gartner.
The research firm has also predicted that 94.5 per cent of downloads will be for free apps by 2017, as the market for monetising apps gets increasingly tougher for developers.
"The vast number of mobile apps may imply that mobile is a new revenue stream that will bring riches to many," said Ken Dulaney, vice president and analyst at Gartner.
"However, our analysis shows that most mobile applications are not generating profits and that many mobile apps are not designed to generate revenue, but rather are used to build brand recognition and product awareness or are just for fun."
Less than 0.01 per cent of apps will ever be a financial success, a figure Gartner attributes to the fact consumers are increasingly choosing apps through recommendations from friends and news sources, rather than trawling through the thousands of apps available themselves.
It was announced last week by Apple that sales at its App Store surpassed $10 billion (£6.1 billion) in 2013. Such a figure could be misleading for developers in light of Gartner's latest research.
"Of paid applications, about 90 percent are downloaded less than 500 times per day and make less than $1,250 (£762) a day," Dulaney added. "This is only going to get worse in the future when there will be even greater competition, especially in successful markets."