App penetration among adults hits 24%

Katie Gatto · September 14, 2010 · Short URL:

New Pew report shows you what kind of apps are most popular and who's consuming what

Prior to 2008, the idea of apps on a phone was barely a reality. After all, it was only in July 2008 that Apple's App Store launched as part of iTunes.

Today, applications on phones, beyond just Apple's iPhone, are becoming increasingly popular and as common as cell phones used as the main telephone in one's house.

An estimated 35% of U.S. adults have an app on their phone, according to the latest report, called The Rise of Apps Culture, released by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. But just because adults have at least one app downloaded on their phones, doesn't mean they're using them or even cognizant of them. Only 24% of adults actually use their apps. And, one out of every 10 cell phone users in the U.S. don't even know they have apps available on their phone.

Nonetheless, these findings suggest that while the app market is being adopted fairly quickly, the market is hardly saturated, and significant opportunity remains for app developers.

Think about it - already about 29% of adult users have downloaded apps to their phone at some point. This only in the past two years since they've really been available. The bad news is that only about 13% have paid to download those apps, and on average, users are paying less than $3 per app to download, which means a small per-unit profit, considering the 30% distribution fee app developers have to pay to distributors like Apple. But if your app somehow becomes a hit - you can make a mint, regardless of the fee.

So what are the most popular apps? Games, news and maps.

Women were more likely than men to have used a game app in the past 30 days (63% vs 58%). But men were more likely to use a productivity app or a bank/financing app.  to be 63% of game app users, in this survey. 

Overall, however, women are less inclined to download apps than men are. In fact, the typical app downloader is a male, college graduate who makes a decent living.

“An apps culture is clearly emerging among some cell phone users, particularly men and young adults,” said Kristen Purcell, Associate Director for Research at the Pew Internet Project. “Still, it is clear that this is the early stage of adoption when many cell owners do not know what their phone can do.  The apps market seems somewhat ahead of a majority of adult cell phone users.”

While you may be tempted to go for the aging boomer market, be aware that you will be fighting an uphill battle there, with only 11% of cell users age 50 and older downloading any apps at all. As a matter of fact, the study specifically mentioned that older cell phone users are more likely not to even know if their phone can download apps at all.

So, on the whole apps can be a great way to build a loyal following, provided you are willing to target the right demographic.

Images are courtesy of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes