The Guardian News & Media (via are broadcasting their recent good fortune. It turns out that it has sold 68,979 copies of its premium iPhone app, which launched in December. Does the future of web publishing belong to iPhone apps?

The News and the Mobile App

Costing US$ 3.99 each, the Guardian has brought in roughly US$ 275,226. At such a rate, they can hope to see about US$ 3.2 million a year. Not to diminish their earnings, but that’s money earned before Apple takes their cut (30%) and currency conversion rates. Still, not bad for a news industry iPhone application.

But all this hype is reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch, who in September announced a pay model for the Wall Street Journal. The pay model included a mobile app costing US$ 104.00 for the year, or US$ 2.00 a week, for non-subscribers.

No word on how much revenue it has generated, but according to a Gartner report, sales of mobile phone applications, are expected to exceed US$ 6 billion this year.

Mobile App Usage to Increase

Gartner predicts that 4,500 of the applications will be downloaded in 2010 compared to 2,500 in 2009, with revenue from app downloads expected to reach US$ 6.2 billion this year and rise to more than US$ 29 billion by 2013.

Gartner also reports that Apple is king of mobile apps grabbing almost every one of the 4.2 billion dollars spent on mobile apps in 2009. Based on Gartner's estimates and our own analysis, Apple could hold on to at least two-thirds of the market if current sales trends hold for 2010.

Content Worth Paying For?

Mobile apps seem to be the only kind of content users are willing to pay for, unlike newspaper websites. In a Harris poll released earlier this month it was found that 77 percent said they wouldn't pay anything to read a newspaper's stories on the web.

Newspapers of the world, take note. The future of web publishing may indeed be the mobile web.