Apple's iPad to push app sales beyond $15bn in 2011
Sales of applications for iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices are forecast to exceed $15bn (€10.9bn) this year.
Downloads of popular games, such as Angry Birds and Doodle Jump, are expected to lead to a near-tripling of global app sales, according to research firm Gartner.
Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner, said the big rise in expected sales from $5.2bn in 2010 was due to the popularity of the iPad and other tablet computers.
"Something massive has happened," she said. "It's called the iPad, and all of its little brothers and sisters and cousins that are copying Apple."
Ms Baghdassarian said apps are "by far" the fastest-growing sector of the telecoms and technology industry, and could eventually overtake money generated by phone calls.
Apple, which launched the first app store in the summer of 2008, still dominates the industry, controlling an estimated nine out of 10 of all app sales.
Last week Apple announced more than 10 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store, compared with 1 billion downloaded via Google's Andorid Market.
Apple, and other app stores, collect 30pc of the retail price of all apps sold, with 70pc going to the software developers.
Several entrepreneurs have become millionaires from creating and selling apps. At one point in 2008 Joel Comm, a US internet marketer, was raking in more than $30,000 a day from his iFart app that makes a farting noise.
A festive version of Angry Birds, the addictive game in which players catapult animated birds into obstacles, is currently one of the biggest selling applications.
Although many apps sell for less than €1, some can cost as much as $1,000. In August 2008, an application called I Am Rich, which simply showed a picture of a red ruby glowing on the iPhone's screen, was sold for $999.99