MOBILE device applications (apps) are not marketed well enough in South Africa to make substantial money for their developers or companies, according to World Wide Worx.

Mobile apps are a multi billion-dollar industry in the US, Europe and Asia, but have not yet taken off commercially in South Africa.

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of business technology research company World Wide Worx, said on Thursday that online retail sales should do well next year, but downloadable apps for cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices had a long way to go before they broke out of a niche market.

He singled out FNB, News24 and Ster-Kinekor’s apps as being among the best locally produced. "These are apps which large companies have designed well and which customers have reacted to," Mr Goldstuck said.

"Our research found that South Africans do not get enough information … from applications used on cellphones, tablets and the like. This is especially with respect to applications used to encourage buying decisions."

Mr Goldstuck said PriceCheck, an app built in South Africa which allows comparisons of the prices of the same product at different shops, was well made.

Property24, appening, a gig guide for Johannesburg which can be downloaded onto cellphones and bidorbuy are also gaining popularity, the research showed.

The electronic gig guide’s founder, Dale Amler, said yesterday that success was a result of the strength of the idea.

"We have identified a need. People have asked what is there to do and I believe appening has answered that question. Anyone can add an event straight onto the app," Mr Amler said.

Mxit, South Africa’s largest local social network with more than 9-million users, had about 2,500 app developers using its software, its spokeswoman, Sarah Rice, said yesterday. "This is a big industry with … potential and it’s something that we are taking seriously.

"A key message is to understand that a mobile and a website offering need to work together ."

Dave Duarte, business technology analyst, said he believed retail apps would only gain traction in South Africa in a couple of years.