Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market, Facebook, as well as Google applications such as Search, Gmail and Google Maps, are roughly the top most popular smartphone applications for the Android platform, according to Nielsen.
Nielsen analyzed data from the smartphones of the thousands of participating consumer panelists to rank mobile apps by active reach, or the percentage of Android owners who used the app within the past 30 days.
The market researcher, which broke down app use among three chief age segments, said Android Market and Facebook for Android were the top two apps used among Android phone owners aged 18 to 24, 25 to 34 and 35 to 44.
Some 89 percent of Android users 18 to 24 used the Android Market app, with 92 percent in the 25 to 34 age range and 95 percent in the 35 to 44 age range using the program.
Some 81 percent of users in the aged 18 segment used Facebook for Android, with 81 percent using the software in the 25-year-old age range and only 77 percent using Facebook in the 44-year-old and older category.
After those leading apps, a mixed bag of Google apps are the most popular among the three age demographics. Google Search, Gmail and Google Maps are all popular apps.
Also, Google's YouTube app gets heavy usage from Android smartphone owners 18 to 24, with 64 percent using it in the last 30 days, compared to 56 percent and 51 percent of 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 year olds, respectively.
What does this data show?
That a handful of apps that already have either close to 1 billion or close to 1 billion users (Google Search has 1 billion, while Facebook has 800 million-plus on its network) or at least hundreds of millions of users (Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube) receive the overwhelming majority of attention on Android handsets. Unless some new apps come along to blow those out of the water, the popularity positions are unlikely to change.
Nielsen's report comes less than a weeks after Google announced it had notched its 10 billionth app download for the Android Market, which has been vastly improved since its launch in October 2008. Android app downloads are helped by the fact the more than 200 million Android devices have been activated all over the world, with 550,000 activated each day.
Of course, there is another side to this story: the Apple iOS and iPhone factor, which Robert Scoble explored in this blog post. Scoble looked at the idea that most of the so-called "coolest apps" come out on iOS first, then end up ported to Android.
The gist is that most of the important, early development work for apps starts on iOS, then makes its way to Android later, for a variety of reasons.