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Report: Apps to become $38 billion industry by 2015

iphone-appsA report released this week by Forrester Research estimates that the revenue generated through the sales of smartphone and tablet apps will reach $38 billion by 2015.

That’s an impressive accomplishment considering that just about four years ago, just before Apple launched its first-generation iPhone in 2007 and way before anyone had heard of Angry Birds, there was virtually no app industry to speak of.

Now, the app world is hosted by a slew of different online stores including Google’s Android Market, Microsoft’s Apps Marketplace, BlackBerry’s App Place and HP’s Palm App Catalog. Apple’s iOS platform, home to apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, alone has 350,000 some apps. In 2010, apps accounted for $1.7 billion in revenue globally.

Now, as smartphones and tablets find their way into the hands of more and more consumers, the app industry is expected to grow exponentially. And advances in technology are expected to contribute heavily to the popularization of apps. As devices become equipped with more sophisticated sensors and accessories, apps will find new ways to become indispensable to consumers (much like GPS has already become on smartphones). Near-field communication technology (rumored to be included in Apple’s iPhone 5) is one example of a tech that could become widely adopted among smartphones and tablets, spawning a potentially lucrative new category of apps.

“The explosion of app development that started on the iPhone only scratches the surface of what’s about to emerge,” the report, written by Forrester Research’s John McCarthy, says. By 2015, app sales for tablet devices alone are expected to reach $8.1 billion — way up from the roughly $300 million generated by tablet apps in 2010.

The report also predicts that apps will give birth to a new era of cloud computing, one where content is stored online so that it is accessible across multiple devices at any given time.

What means to be seen is if Apple, the forefather of the app, can be displaced from its throne by the time 2015 rolls around.