Could the app economy be poised to break $100bn? Who’s winning the war of the wearables? Which Chinese smartphone manufacturer has crashed into the world top ten?

You’ll find the answers to these and many more mobile data-related questions in this week’s MEF market stats round up…

Total app economy could swell to $101 billion in four years

There was barely any such thing as an app ecosystem before 2008. Now, it’s on its way to being a $100 billion industry.

A new report by App Annie] contents that the total app economy – comprising all revenues and wages relating to apps, could double in size to $101 billion by 2020.

In 2016, the global mobile app market is projected to expand 24 per cent to reach $51 billion.

App Annie expect China to surpass the US in terms of total revenue from app stores by the first half of 2016, having surpassed it in downloads in early 2015.

It also says games generated 85 per cent of app market revenue in 2015, or $34.8 billion. That is expected to grow to $41.5 billion in 2016 and $74.6 billion in 2020.

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Sales of wearables set for 18.4 per cent annual rise

Vendors will sell 274.59 million smartwatches, fitness bands and other wearable devices this year, says Gartner. The sales will generate $28.7 billion.

This represents an 18 per cent jump on 2015, when just over 232 million units were sold, By 2017, sales should grow to 322.7 million units.

Smartwatches and fitness bands dominate the space, with head-mounted devices and eyewear virtually non-existent. Gartner says just 140,000 units of the latter sold in 2015.

However, shipments will surge to 6.3 million units in 2017 thanks mostly to VR.

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Three billion loyalty cards will ‘go mobile’ by 2020

A new study from Juniper Research reveals that more than three billion loyalty cards will either become mobile-only or be integrated into mobile apps within four years. In 2015, the total stood at 1.4 billion.

The report, Mobile & Online Coupons: Redemption, Loyalty & Consumer Engagement 2015-2020, states that brands are increasingly giving consumers the ability to store cards virtually.

De-materialising cards in a mobile wallet makes it easier to carry multiple cards, check balances instantly and redeem points at all times. It also makes it easier for brands to target offers in real time.

However, there is great variation among retailers. In the UK, for example, around 40 per cent of Sainsbury’s Nectar Card holders had a loyalty app by end of 2015, compared with less that four per cent of Tesco Clubcard holders.

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UK mobile payment scheme Paym now has 3.25m registered users

Britain’s ‘pay a mobile contact’ service Paym has nearly doubled its transaction volumes over the past six months.

It now has 3.25 million mobile phone numbers, and says it has the potential to connect nine out of ten current accounts in the UK.

Paym was launched by the Payments Council in April 2014 to link all UK phone numbers to bank accounts.

This means people can pay contacts without ever needing to get their branch and sort code details.

The new stats say more than £146m has been sent using Paym since launch, with more money sent in the last six months of 2015 than in the previous 12.

The average transaction value was £49.48. Petrol money, splitting bills, IOUs and other household costs commanded the highest uses of Paym.

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Oppo sold 50m smartphones in 2015

Chinese phone maker Oppo has broken into the world’s top ten after posting year-on-year growth of 67 per cent last year.

The company sold 50m smartphones, enough to move it into the top ten smartphone brands worldwide, according to researcher TrendForce.

Oppo is one of a number of brands – along with Xiaomi, Huawei, Micromax, OnePlus, Karbonn and others – seeking to challenge Samsung et al with cheap but quality Android devices.

It recently sealed sponsorship deals with FC Barcelona and International Cricket Council (ICC) to raise its profile.

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Apple controls two-thirds of all smartwatch shipments

New numbers from Canalys reveal Apple as the major force in smartwatches – though Fitbit leads the wearable sector as a whole.

Canalys says Apple shipped five million devices in the fourth quarter and 12 million units over the year. Samsung was second in smartwatches, with Pebble third and Huawei fourth.

Across the entire wearable bands segment, Fitbit led all vendors in Q4, followed by Apple and Xiaomi.

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