Mobile app revenue is expected to hit $77 billion by 2017, according to a new Gartner report. For businesses, it's the massive amounts of personalized data from mobile app users, not the cost of downloads, that may be the real gold mine.

The report predicts that there will be more than 268 billion mobile app downloads by 2017. Although free apps accounted for 92 percent of all downloads in 2013, even free apps offer businesses useful advertising outlets, and more importantly, tons of data. Mobile app usage provides businesses with users' demographic data, location, personal preferences, and habits--all premium information for engaging customers with personalized marketing and advertising.  

"Mobile apps have become the official channel to drive content and services to consumers. From entertainment content to productivity services, from quantified-self to home automation, there is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, in a press release. "As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data--what they say, what they do, where they go--that is transforming the app interaction paradigm."

So even though many mobile apps might seem like a trivial part of everyday life, Candy Crush, Angry Birds and like might provide businesses with an answer to the ever-present question: "What do my customers want?"