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Mobile app revenues to near £20 billion by end of 2012

The mobile app market will be ringing in the New Year with nearly £20 billion dollars in its pocket.

According to ABI Research data, global revenues will surpass the $30 billion (£18.7 billion) milestone by the end of this year, which is almost double the amount reached by the end of 2011. That figure includes the money made from paid downloads, in-app purchases, subscriptions, and in-app advertisements.

"Consumers' high interest in apps has for [a] long time been obvious from download volumes," senior analyst Aapo Markkanen said in a statement. But 2012, he said, "will go down in history as the year when the economic side of the business finally took off."

Apple leads the charge, ABI said, thanks to the company's "compelling OS" and its "well-executed distribution and billing mechanisms."

Rival Google also made a splash this year, Markkanen said, adding that the Android-based company deserves credit for "rehabilitating its proposition as an app distributor in the past year or so." If the old Android Market were an industry garage sale, he said, then the new Google Play resembles a respectable department store.

Google carries an estimated one-third share of annual app revenues.

"We're no longer talking only about a short-term gold rush," Markkanen said. "Apps have become a major digital industry."

The main candidates for the third ecosystem, ABI said, are Microsoft and Research In Motion, both of which have made monetisation a key part of their platform strategies. If Windows Phone 8 or BlackBerry 10 really catch on, Markkanen pointed to an easy jump for either company to be a main contributor to annual revenues.

Last week's Black Friday deals pushed Web traffic up 71 per cent across the top 500 retail sites. PayPal reported that the volume of recorded global mobile payments increased 173 per cent compared to the same time last year. Most mobile shopping took place Thanksgiving Day, between 3 and 4 p.m. ET. The total number of mobile shoppers increased 164 per cent since last year, PayPal said.