These days, wherever you turn, another business has just released their mobile app to consumers.  Experts are beginning to quantify that trend, approximating that the number of mobile apps offered by companies is expected to grow to 33 billion by 2014.  Meanwhile, estimates indicate that the combined spending on consumer and business mobile apps will top $13 billion worldwide by 2012, a nearly fivefold increase over 2009.

With so many businesses turning to mobile apps to build their brand, the question remains as to what the expected return on investment will be for those apps.  In other words, what’s motivating so many businesses to expand their mobile marketing strategy to apps and driving mobile app creation demand?

Mobile app demand driver #1: There’s been an exponential rise in feature phone and smartphone usage

The number of phone users in the US currently totals 236.6 million and will grow to 256.2 million by 2015.  Of these, the number of smartphone users just jumped by 10% to 82.2 million through July, according to a report by metrics company comScore Inc. released in August, 2011.  With such a rapid growth in 3G/4G and wireless capable smartphones, consumers have become unchained from their desktops and now have the ability to quickly research and purchase products and services from businesses through their smartphones anywhere, at any time.

Mobile app demand driver #2: Consumers use their smartphones to make purchases

According to Google’s “Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users”  from April 2011, 74% of smartphone users have made a purchase as a result of using a smartphone.  The report also showed that though purchases may not be made directly through the smartphone, 67% of consumers research on their smartphone and then buy in a store; 23% research on a smartphone, visit the store to check out the product, then purchase online on their computer; and 16% research on their smartphone, visit the store, then purchase on their smartphone.

Mobile app demand driver #3: Mobile apps drive purchasing on smartphones

According to a survey by Mobile Dependence Day conducted in June 2011, 31% of US smartphone owners completing a purchase a result of mobile marketing did so through usage of an app.   Two leading categories of mobile apps downloaded by smartphone users include shopping/retail and dining/restaurant apps.  Thus, consumers are beginning to view mobile apps as the primary interface by which to connect with businesses.

So whether it’s a small business or large corporation, organizations are moving beyond social media and going mobile because the added connectivity doesn’t just bring in consumers, it brings in cash.

If you’re a business owner who has created a mobile app as part of your mobile marketing strategy, what helped you make the decision to do it?

If you’re on the fence about creating an app for your business, what’s holding you back?