If you'd just put down Angry Birds Space for a moment, maybe we could tell you that mobile apps are kind of a big deal. How big of a deal? How's about 45.6 billion downloads just this year -- that's a serious amount of birds lost in space! All of those downloads weren't just Angry Birds venturing into the final frontier, of course. Gartner, Inc's latest mobile report doesn't actually break down how much of that enormous number pertains to Rovio's hit franchise, but it does note that "free apps will account for nearly 90 percent of total mobile app store downloads in 2012." That means of the nearly 46 billion apps downloaded this year, approximately 40.6 billion were free. Additionally, an entire quarter of the apps downloaded in 2012 were via Apple's iOS app store -- but that isn't what's driving app growth, necessarily. "The number of apps available is driven by an increasing number of stores in the market today," Gartner research director Brian Blau notes. "These stores will see their combined share of total downloads increase, but demand for apps overall will still be dominated by Apple, Google, and Microsoft."
And the growth doesn't stop there. Blau predicts that 93 percent of all apps downloads will be of the free variety by 2016 -- also, we'll be downloading over 300 billion apps worldwide by the same year. Like we said, kind of a big deal.