Although cell phones have become platforms for a wide variety of applications, only about 24 percent of adults actually use apps. That's the takeaway from a new report released Tuesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
"Having apps and using apps are not synonymous," the report says. It found that about 82 percent of adults have cell phones, and, of those, 43 percent have apps on their devices -- or about 35 percent of all adults. This includes both those who have downloaded an app, or who bought a phone that came pre-loaded with apps.
Photos, Texting Most Popular
Older cell-phone owners don't use apps often, and about 11 percent of all users aren't even certain if they have applications on their devices. App users tend to be male, younger, more affluent, and more educated than other adults. The study also found that "the apps-using population also skews slightly Hispanic."
But app use isn't the most popular non-voice activity on cell phones. Picture-taking and texting are far in the lead, with 76 percent of cell-phone users snapping photos and 72 percent sending or receiving text messages. Also above app use was accessing the Internet, playing a game, sending or receiving e-mail, shooting video, playing music, and sending or receiving instant messages -- each of which were in the 30 to 38 percent range.
When measured as a percent of cell-phone users, app-using is last at 29 percent.
The results could indicate that the emphasis by major device makers on setting up an app ecosystem with a well-populated store may not be the huge crowd-pleaser it was expected to be. On the other hand, the Pew study could be reflecting app usage at a relatively early moment in their evolution, and, as the population ages, the app-using habits of young people may increasingly become a part of the general user population.
One example of the age differential in app usage is the frequency with which users download an app. The Pew study found that 10 percent of all cell-phone users have downloaded an app in the last week, and that number rises to 20 percent for users under 30 years old.
Results 'Not Bad'
For developers, a key stat is how many have paid for an app they downloaded. Pew found that, of the 29 percent of adult cell-phone users who download apps, just under half, or 47 percent, paid for the software -- that is, about 13 percent of all adult cell-phone users. All others say they only download free apps. Unlike the differences between app users and non-users, the study found no major demographic patterns between those who pay for apps and those who do not. (continued...)