Ilya LaursGetJar, currently closing in on the 1bn download mark. is the largest cross-platform store for mobile apps, and the second largest app store after Apple’s.

I’ve been talking to GetJar founder and CEO Ilya Laurs about the mobile apps market, and why he believes that apps will eventually become bigger than the internet…

When did you launch GetJar?

GetJar was founded in 2005 in Lithuania and it wasn’t initially a commercial project, the service was designed to provide platform for testing apps.

As a small company in Lithuania we didn’t have big global ambitions, but in 2007 we started to get a few VC calls and our subsequent funding from Accel Partners has really allowed us to expand onto the world’s mobile app stage.

What challenges have you had getting the business to where it is now?

Our biggest challenge continues to be our biggest opportunity. Other targeted app stores such as App World and Ovi have enormous marketing budgets, but because they only focus on one platform that is also where the opportunity lies.

As GetJar is a cross platform app store we can capitalise on demand for apps for a variety of handsets and look to grow our user base. Our download numbers show that we can reach a long way to a massive user base. Otherwise, the lowest points for the business have been technical outages, caused largely by high demand for our service.

Tell me about the numbers: how many users do you get, how many apps, developers etc?

GetJar is the world’s second largest mobile app store offering over
57,000 apps for all mobile devices and serving over 55m
downloads per month. To date we have achieved over 750m downloads and attracted 300,000 registered developers and 50,000 registered beta testers. We host over 57,000 apps and on average achieve 55m app downloads per month. 

What are the most popular handsets for your apps?

The top five brands of handsets that are downloading the most GetJar apps are, in order of popularity: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG and Blackberry. 

What makes a good app?

A good app must have an easy to use interface, be intuitive to use, be available on a wide variety of handsets and be really responsive and fast. A good app also needs to have a relatively small file size so that it is easy to download.

What is your target market?

We have a number of target audiences:

  • Mobile consumers. We want to offer a ‘one stop shop’ for mobile apps, offering apps for everyone, rather than restricting apps by handset manufacturer or mobile operator.
  • Developers & publishers, we want to attract the best developers and publishers to offer their apps via GetJar.
  • Advertisers. Mobile apps are an increasingly important part of brand campaigns and it’s important that advertisers begin to understand the importance of the mobile app phenomenon.

Can you see Apple’s dominance of the apps market changing anytime soon?

Nobody can force Apple’s hand to open up the iPhone. Given their culture and history they won’t in order to protect the user experience. However, we are likely to see some fierce competition over the next year and while iPhone and the Apple App store will continue to grow, they will no longer be the only fruit.

How do you see mobile commerce developing? Do you have many retailers providing commerce apps through GetJar?

We have seen a huge spike in retailers and brand agencies wanting to offer commerce apps through GetJar and this trend is only likely to continue.

How do you see the mobile apps market on particular developing over the next year or two?

2010 will be the year of the handset. If this year was all about apps, next year is all about handsets. Spurred on by the success of the iPhone, other manufacturers are focusing on features, design and the ‘cool factor’. In 2010, smartphones are going to be really revolutionary in every respect, and we’re likely to see a much more competitive and level playing field.

The apps that will generate the biggest consumer demand next year will be social, dating, casual gaming apps, running across different platforms and devices. The single platform approach can undoubtedly generate revenues but as more and more consumers jump on the app bandwagon those apps that operate on a variety of different platforms will be the ones that succeed.

The battle of the app stores will culminate in a dramatic change to the market over the next 12-18 months, and at least 90% of app stores will fail.

The importance of global mobile billing will become critical. Several $10M-a-year mobile app businesses will appear in 2010 as the apps market gathers momentum,  but they must offer cross-platform apps in order to generate this type of revenue.

Billing processes and agreements will improve more in 2011 and 2012, stimulating the app economy and the rise of the $100m app businesses. But for the ultimate growth and survival of the apps business, synchronised, global mobile billing is essential to ensure consumers can purchase content quickly and easily.

Do you think that mobile apps will become bigger than the internet?

Earlier this year, I was quoted as saying that “mobile apps will be bigger than the internet”. The internet, as it is today, on the desktop will be eclipsed by the mobile web, and this is most likely to take place by 2020.

In ten years the time consumers spend on apps versus desktop will be way bigger in terms of mindshare, time, money spent, etc. It is just getting started now and will evolve. Already, over half of GetJar users spend more time on the mobile web than via their desktop PC and this is a growing trend.

What’s next for GetJar?

From a consumer perspective, we want to continue to grow to offer every app for every phone. For developers –we want to become the default publishing solution, taking any complexity away.