Mobile app industry to surge in 2011 - Gartner

* Mobile app industry to almost triple in 2011 to $15.1 bln

* Apple to lead, but market share to fall from 90 percent

* 81 percent of all downloads free in 2011

Tarmo Virki, European Technology Correspondent

HELSINKI, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Worldwide mobile application store revenue will almost triple to $15.1 billion this year, boosted by a surge in Google's GOOG.O Android market, research firm Gartner said on Wednesday.

Apple AAPL.O created the market for mobile online software stores with the iPhone store in mid-2008, scoring an instant hit that drove smartphone sales and reshaped the way mobile content is delivered.

“We estimate that Apple’s App Store drove close to nine application downloads out of 10 in 2010 and will remain the single best-selling store ... through 2014, although to a lesser extent, as other stores manage to gain momentum,” analyst Carolina Milanesi said.

Last week, Apple’s App Store reached 10 billion downloads. Its closest rivals are Google’s Android and privately held GetJar which sells software for all platforms and reached 1 billion downloads last June. [ID:nLDE70L04I]

Android, offered free to cellphone vendors, was expected to become the world's most popular smartphone operating system this year as vendors like HTC 2498.TW, Motorola Mobility MMI.N and Samsung Electronics 005930.KS roll out new models.

Gartner forecast 81 percent of all downloads this year will be made for free.

It said 16 percent of application store markets’ $5.2 billion revenue was generated from advertising, a share it expected to nearly double to 30 percent by the end of 2014.

(Editing by Dan Lalor)

((, +358-9-680 50 235, Reuters messaging: Keywords: MOBILE APPS/

C Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution ofReuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expresslyprohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuterssphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group ofcompanies around the world.