Mobile application store downloads are expected to surge 117% in 2011, growing more than 1,000% by 2014.

According to the latest figures by research firm, Gartner, worldwide app store sales are anticipated to surpass $15.1bn in 2011, a 190% increase on 2010 sales.

Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner, said free app downloads will account for 81% of downloads this year.

“We strongly believe there is a sizeable opportunity for application stores in the future. However, applications will have to grow up and deliver a superior experience to the one that a web-based app will be able to deliver,” she said.

“Native apps will survive the web enhancements only when they will provide a more personal and richer experience to the ‘vanilla’ experience that a web-based app will deliver,” she added.

Stephanie Baghdassarian said application stores have become a crucial part of the smartphone ecosystem.

As tablet devices drive increased app downloads, Apple’s app store is expected to remain the most successful mobile app store.

Other app stores include Google’s Android Market, Nokia’s Ovi Store, Research in Motion (RIM)’s App World, Microsoft Marketplace and Samsung Apps as well as Amazon’s Android app store.

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