Apple is selling some 17 million apps per day, and they may begin to outsell music downloads by the end of this year. Android too is catching up to iTunes’ 250,000 apps, boasting about 70,000, and BlackBerry isn’t far behind. The app market is huge, right?
Not according to a new study by Nielsen and the Pew Research Center. Only around 35% of adult cell phone owners have apps on their phone (including preloaded apps), and only 24% actually use them. Although apps have generated huge profits for developers, they still rank very low on cell phone users’ mobile activities. Texting and taking pictures are now common among adults–more than 70% use these features–but downloading apps still has a long way to go: Just 29% of adult cell-phone owners have downloaded apps, a percentage lower than recording video and playing music.
What’s more, adults rarely pay for apps. Of the thousands of adults surveyed, a mere 13% have paid for an app. The majority opt for free apps, if anything, and even of those who are willing to pay, 60% have dropped less than $2.99. Apps also have a low shelf life: more than half of users have deleted apps, and the majority of those who have do so within two weeks.
The most frequently downloaded app genres are games, music, and news/weather. Consumers are more likely to pay for gaming and news apps, and unsurprisingly are less likely to pay for things they can get for free: social networking, music, etc.
Lastly, one big issue for developers is how to market your app. Finding success in a cluttered app store in next to impossible, but according to Nielsen, that’s how nearly half of all downloaders discovered apps. In second place was family and friend recommendations, followed by online reviews.
The Nielsen/Pew study is good news for developers, though. If the app market is such a huge success with so few users, and already generating billions of dollars in revenue, how big will it become when it apps are as ubiquitous among adults as texting and taking pictures?