Pew Research study highlights different behaviors towards apps for cellphone and tablet users

By November 10, 2011
Keywords : Smart city, America
mobile apps

A study conducted by Pew Research shows that the app intall rates have doubled in two years among adults in the US. However, consumers don't always actually use the apps they download, and have different behaviors towards apps depending on what device they use.


Cell phone users are downloading software onto their phones much more often now then two years ago - in September 2009, 22 % of mobile device users were getting apps, but in August 2011 this activity increased to 38 %. As the Pew Research report remarks, more carriers began supporting the iPhone, the iPad was released, and other mobile app-drivers such as tablets have increased in popularity. This increase in app usage not only shows an uptick in mobile device usage, but the acceptance of these devices as primary Internet access tools, as opposed to larger-size laptop and desktop PCs. In fact, all these device types - cell phones, tablets and laptops - have been increasingly adopted by US adults, except for desktops.

Apps are not always used

But “havers” are not necessarily users - As previous Pew research found, “among adults with apps on their phones, only about two-thirds (68%) reported actually using them.  Overall, that meant that while 35% of U.S. adults had apps on their phone, just 24% of adults actually used them.” Despite the marked adoption increase, only about a quarter of US adults are active mobile app users.

Tablet holders tend to use more apps than cellphone users

Most consumers do not use more than 5 apps on their mobile device. However, the study points out different behaviors towards apps depending on the type of device. 18 % of cellphone users don’t use the apps on their device, 21 % use one or two apps over the course of the week, 30% use up to five apps in that period. By contrast, only 8% of tablet users do not use apps, 18% use at least two apps in a week, but 33 % use 3-5 apps. So for tablet users, it is more often the case that they use a greater number of apps regularly than cell phone users.

Real-time data apps most highly used category

Pew also asked mobile device owners what types of apps they have downloaded, and placed them in several categories. The most popular apps were those that tracked news, weather, sports or stocks (74%), social or networking apps (67%), special interests or information-related, shopping or video streaming.

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