Need to find a venue? There's an app for that

The iPhone is the gadget of the moment. In the last year its popularity has skyrocketed and during the final quarter of 2009 Apple sold a record number of handsets.

Sales of the iPhone rose by 100 per cent year on year during the last three months of 2009, with the company selling 8.7 million devices. The figure was also up by 17.6 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

While the iPhone's popularity continues to accelerate around the world, so does the interest in and demand for apps. There are almost 140,000 apps available through the App Store, helping people to do everything from finding a restaurant to playing the piano.

Just nine months after the App Store was launched, the one billionth app was downloaded by 13-year-old Connor Mulcahey from the US. And if Gartner research is anything to go by, our thirst for apps is only going to increase. The analyst has predicted that consumers will spend $6.2 billion (£4 billion) in mobile application stores this year. They will download 4.5 billion apps in 2010, eight out of which will be free.

But this is just the beginning. By 2013, downloads will surpass 21.6 billion, Gartner predicts. While free apps will account for 82 per cent of downloads in 2010, they will represent 87 per cent in 2013.

"As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment with application downloads," commented Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner.

"Games remain the No. 1 application, and mobile shopping, social networking, utilities and productivity tools continue to grow and attract increasing amounts of money," she added.

At the beginning of 2009, 55.6 per cent of iPhone users had accessed news or information via a downloaded application and a year on that figure is likely to be much higher.

Apps are being produced by a diverse range of businesses and organisations so that there are tools for everything it seems. Now has got in on the action with its own app designed to help event organisers looking for facilities and meeting spaces for any occasion.

The app, set to be launched at the end of February, allows people to solicit quotes and availability from venues through their iPhone. It also works with GPS coordinates to help event organisers find venues in their area suitable for meetings, conferences and private functions.

"Our free venues iPhone app will allow our visitors to find quotes and availability from all types of venue – from conference and meeting spaces through to somewhere to host your child's birthday party or wedding – direct from the iPhone, free of charge," said Greg Bowman, group sales and marketing manager for

"With the functionality of in the palm of your hand, we're making it easier than ever before to find and source the venue you require for your next function," he added.

The app will be launched at International Confex this month, from exhibit stand B940.

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