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According to research company Gartner, more people will buy smartphones by 2012 than PCs (via Reuters).  With that growth in smartphone purchases will come an even bigger growth in the development of mobile apps for those smartphones.  In 18-months, smartphone owners downloaded over 3 billion apps from Apple's App Store.  Considering that sales of iPhones are expected to grow by 50% this year while sales of PCs are only expected to grow by 20%, Gartner's predictions don't seem too far off base.The vast majority of mobile apps are offered for free or for less than $1.  By offering mobile apps for low costs, developers and companies expect to earn a comfortable return based on a higher quantity of downloads than a higher price would deliver.  However, precedent has been set for offering valuable content for a higher price tag (read "Even Expensive iPhone Apps Sell").Clearly, the mobile app market is growing fast, and given the shift in buying behavior to smartphones from PCs in the immediate future, creating an app strategy should be on the strategic planning radar of every company.  Mobile apps aren't limited to iPhones anymore.  BlackBerry, Google, and Palm are growing in terms of mobile app availability, too.  Consumers are driving a shift to mobility that will only continue to grow.Now, if only my current mobile phone contract would expire so I can get a new smartphone and some cool apps!Image: Flickr