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Free apps will account for 89 percent of total downloads in 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. Worldwide mobile app store downloads will surpass 45.6 billion in 2012, with free downloads accounting for 40.1 billion, and paid-for downloads totaling 5 billion. Worldwide, smart device popularity drives opportunity for mobile app stores which by 2016 will reach 310 billion downloads and $74 billion in revenue.
The move is being touted as one that will move users away from downloading apps. The possibility of doing so will be huge, with there being benefits for users, developers as well as Google. There has been a focus shift at Google to blur the lines between web and native apps. In the past, hints that Android and Chrome OS could merge in the future too have emerged.