Apple could bring in a cool $4.9 billion in App Store sales this year, estimates iHS iSuppli.
Boosted by the new Maps and Passbook apps, this year's sales could jump 70 percent over last year's $2.9 billion. The forecast means 2012 would generate almost half of all App Store sales over the past five years. It would also give Apple a 65 percent share of the worldwide app store market.
Maps and Passbook are game changers, according to the research firm.
"Until now, Apple's iOS ecosystem has focused on virtual services, such as apps, digital music, and movies," IHS analyst Ian Fogg said in a statement. "However, with iOS version 6, Apple is moving into real-world location and financial-transaction features. The new Apple Maps and Passbook apps and accompanying location platform for app developers is the keystone for this real-world expansion, and will help support the accelerated growth of the Apple App Store market in 2012."
Ironically, Apple's new Maps has triggered negative buzz among users and reviewers, who have pointed to certain key drawbacks in the app. IHS iSuppli acknowledges that Maps lacks some of the features found in Google Maps and Nokia Maps but believes Apple's version offers "many enticing features," including the turn-by-turn navigation.
Upgrades to iOS 6 are expected to be "swift and pervasive," Fogg said. A surge in adoption means that more developers will be able to take advantage of the new Maps location service, Passbook, and Facebook integration and reach more users.
iOS 6 also paves the way for Apple to transform itself into more than just a technology provider.
"It seeks to be a key company in all parts of consumers' lives -- from entertainment, communication, and business that is now expanding into real-world transactions for travel, entertainment events, daily deals, and even retail," Fogg noted. "iOS 6 heralds just the start of this journey. And while Apple's Maps solution may lag that of rivals initially, Apple still has all of the capabilities to win."