According to recent Statista figures, approximately 139 million smartphones were sold worldwide in 2008. However, in 2016, Statista's records show that there are now over 2 billion smartphone users across the globe. These smartphone users download billions of news, games, entertainment and social networking apps every year. As a result, within less than ten years the mobile app development industry has sky-rocketed from a relatively new business prospect into a billion dollar industry!

As a result of this dramatic industry growth, mobile app development has had to adapt dramatically over the years in order to accommodate a growing network of potential consumers. This article will demonstrate some of the ways in which the app development industry has expanded and evolved to suit the needs of its consumers.

The ability to rapidly download new software

The most dramatic change in app development over the years relates to the downloading of software itself. Before the advent of the Apple App Store, consumers had to visit a shop in person, find the product that they needed and perhaps pay for a technician to install the software within their computer. However, with the introduction of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, consumers can research, download, use and review a wide range of mobile apps onto their smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices in a matter of minutes. 

New possibilities for aspiring mobile app developers

This process of digitally downloading software has enabled a new type of mobile app developer to enter the global marketplace. As mobile analyst Chetan Sharma explains: "It could take many months and even years before the complex negotiations were over to launch the apps. Independent developers rarely had a shot ... Now, a student in a dorm can become an overnight sensation. It takes only minutes and hours to get something in the market".

With the ability to design, develop, and launch mobile apps now quicker and more accessible than ever before, platforms such as Apple's App Store have expanded exponentially. When it was first launched in 2008, Apple's App Store offered 500 applications available for download from third party developers. Today, Apple's App Store boasts over 1.5 millions apps and must contend with an additional 1.6 million Android apps which are available to download from the Google Play store. 

Increased competition to secure paying users

According to figures published in Entrepreneur magazine; roughly 46% of mobile app users are paying customers. These paying customers generated over $45 billion in revenue for mobile app developers in 2015. In an effort to connect with these paying customers, app development has now shifted towards designing unique gaming experiences which reward users for their loyalty. For instance, mobile gaming apps have started to incorporate loyalty statuses within their games in order to reward and encourage frequent players. Whereas mobile gaming apps were previously fairly simplistic in their format, developers have now expanded these apps into extensive gaming experiences in order to establish a network of loyal customers.