Mobile apps will be worth $17.5 billion by 2012, according to a GetJar study undertaken by Chetan Sharma Consulting. The companies predict that mobile app downloads will grow from 7 billion downloads in 2009 to nearly 50 billio

n in 2012, a CAGR of 92 percent.

Mobile app sales will be greater than CD sales in 2012.

In North America, mobile app revenue will grow from about $2.1 billion in 2009 to around $6.7 billion in 2012. While Asia leads the world in downloaded apps, North America accounted for over 50 percent of app revenue in 2009.

The study forecasts that the biggest revenue generator in 2012 will be off-deck (not tied to carriers) paid-for apps. On-deck mobile apps sales accounted for 60 percent of revenues in 2009, but will fall to under 23 percent by 2012.

Advertising-based revenue models will more than double by 2012, rising from 2009’s 12 percent of revenue to 28 percent of revenue in 2012. The study also predicts that app prices will drop 29 percent from 2009’s average of $1.90 per app.

Currently, 27 percent of the world’s 5 billion mobile users subscribe to data plans. Penetration will reach 45 percent in three years, the study says, with North America expected to lead global data penetration at 60 percent.

While the amount of app stores more than quadrupled in 2009 from 8 to 38, GetJar predicts competition among app stores will be straight up Darwinian in the coming years.

“This report signifies a battle for survival of the fittest among app stores worldwide – with app revenue and growth opportunities growing significantly,” said Ilja Laurs, CEO and founder of GetJar.

“There is no way that this many app stores will survive in the long term and while the value of the global app economy is set to be astoundingly high by 2012, we think only a few app stores will share this revenue,” Laurs said.

By Mark Alvarez