App Usage in America: Some Play, Few Pay
While apps seem to be all the rage if you talk to smartphone manufacturers and cellular service providers, a recent survey suggests that while about a quarter of American adults have downloaded software to a cellphone, only about one in ten have actually paid for an application. This from the Pew Internet Project’s most recent survey of 1,917 adult cellphone users, which yielded some very interesting results both in demographic breakdown of app usage as well as insight into the distribution curve of app preponderance.
Out of all American adults, according to the survey, 35% own phones with apps on them — though that number includes people whose phone came pre-loaded with apps but never downloaded any. Therefore, say the findings, only 25% of adults are “active app users.” For those who have downloaded apps, the mean number of downloads is 18, while the median is 10: this means that the heaviest app users have many, many apps, disproportionate in fact to their overall representation. This finding actually mirrors the results of a decidedly unscientific poll we took earlier this year, which indicated that only about 12% of respondents used over 11 apps on a regular basis.
Also of note, but perhaps not very surprising, is that most app users tend to be young, male, and more educated and well-off than non-app users. While males are more likely to use productivity apps, according to a Nielsen study also cited by the Pew report, females show a greater tendency towards games and social networking apps. In general, games are the most popular category of apps, followed by news/weather, mapping/navigation, social networking, and music. Perhaps the most telling stat of all, though, is that compared to a list of eight other possible non-voice call activities that can be done on a phone (take a picture, SMS, send email, etc), using an app came in dead last (although curiously, other higher-ranked results like playing music or playing a game, are many times performed by — what else, an app).