Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pew Internet & American Life > The Rise of Apps Culture

Overview > Main Findings

Cell phone use in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past decade. Fully eight in ten adults today (82%) are cell phone users, and about one-quarter of adults (23%) now live in a household that has a cell phone but no landline phone.

Along with the widespread embrace of mobile technology has come the development of an “apps culture.” As the mobile phone has morphed from a voice device to a multi-channel device to an internet-accessing mini-computer, a large market of mobile software applications, or “apps,” has arisen.

Among the most popular are apps that provide some form of entertainment (games, music, food, travel and sports) as well as those that help people find information they need and accomplish tasks (maps and navigation, weather, news, banking). [snip]

The most recent Pew Internet Project survey asked a national sample of 1,917 cell phone-using adults if they use apps and how they use them. Broadly, the results indicate that while apps are popular among a segment of the adult cell phone using population, a notable number of cell owners are not yet part of the emerging apps culture.

35% of adults have cell phones with apps, but only two-thirds of those who have apps actually use them


Yet having apps and using apps are not synonymous. Of those who have apps on their phones, only about two-thirds of this group (68%) actually use that software. [snip]

Apps users are younger, more educated, and more affluent than other cell phone users

When compared with other cell phone using adults, and the entire U.S. adult population, the apps user population skews male, and is much younger, more affluent, and more educated than other adults. Overall, the apps-using population also skews slightly Hispanic when compared with other adult cell phone users.

App use still ranks relatively low when compared with other uses of cell phones

[snip] Taking pictures and texting are far and away the most popular non-voice cell phone data applications, with more than seven in ten adult cell phone users embracing these features of their phones.

29% of adult cell phone users have downloaded an app to their phone

As with the apps-using population as a whole, downloaders are younger, more educated, and disproportionately male when compared with the total U.S. adult population. [snip]


Those who download apps do so fairly frequently. Among apps downloaders, roughly half (53%) say their most recent download was in the past 30 days, including one third (33%) who say their last download was within the past week. [snip]

One in eight adult cell phone users (13%) has paid to download an app

Among the 29% of adult cell phone users who download apps, just under half (47%) have paid for an app, with the remainder saying they only download apps that are free. [snip]


Nielsen data indicate that games are the most popular apps, followed by news/weather, maps/navigation, social networking, and music.

In the Nielsen survey, most recent apps downloaders said they used their apps daily but for short periods of time, and used them in a variety of situations.

Some 57% of the recent apps downloaders in the Nielsen study said they use their apps daily. While one quarter of these recent apps downloaders (24%) said they use their apps for more than 30 minutes a day, the vast majority said they spend less time using their apps each day.


The Nielsen survey indicates that different people may use apps in different ways

There were several notable differences among the Nielsen recent-downloader sample in terms of which apps they favored and how frequently they used them. For instance:

Women in the sample were more likely than men to have used a social networking app in the past 30 days (53% v. 42%), and women who used the Facebook app were also more likely to use that app everyday (64% v. 55%)

Women in the sample were more likely than men to have a used a game app in the past 30 days (63% v. 58%), while men were more likely to have used a productivity app (29% v. 21%) or a banking/finance app (31% v. 25%)

Among the Nielsen sample of recent downloaders, whites (53%) and Hispanics (47%) were more likely than African-Americans (36%) to have used a map/navigation/search app in the month prior to the survey


In the Nielsen sample, 75% of 18-24 year-old Twitter app users reported using that app every day, compared with 52% of the 25-34 year-olds and 48% of the Twitter users age 35 and older

In contrast, among Nielsen’s Facebook app users, 25-34 year-olds were more likely than both younger and older Facebook app users to report using their Facebook app daily.

The African-Americans and Hispanics in the Nielsen sample were significantly more likely than whites to be daily users of their Youtube apps (33% of African-Americans v. 24% of Hispanics v. 12% of whites) and their Pandora music apps (33% of African-Americans v. 27% of Hispanics v. 14% of whites)


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