Facebook, Google Maps, Gmail Rule Android Roost: Nielsen

Nielsen measured Android smartphone application usage and found Facebook, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Search are among the top apps used in mobile.

What applications are the most popular on the Android platform? Answer: Many of the same apps that are popular on the desktop Web, which of course includes the major Google apps.

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market app leads with a 90 percent active reach, or the percentage of Android smartphone owners who used an app within the last 30 days, according to new research from Nielsen.

Google Maps, Facebook, Gmail and Google Search all have between 72 percent and almost 75 percent penetration, said the researcher, which parsed data from usage meters on thousands of Android smartphones.

These findings mirror the bulk of usage on the wired Web, where Facebook is the leading social network with over 750 million users. Nielsen said Facebook users totaled 53 billion minutes on the social network during May.

Google meanwhile commands fewer than 65 percent search share, is the leading online map provider, and powers the Gmail app that ranks only behind Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Hotmail in Webmail usage worldwide.

The fact that Google is able to extend its desktop purview to the mobile Web bodes well for the company, which aims to dominant mobile search and display ads just as it does search and display ads on the desktop.

Nielsen discovered some other interesting factoids. Music service Pandora and game Angry Birds showed similar usage by both men and women via Android phones, but Facebook showed an active reach of 81 percent for women Android phone users, versus 69 percent for men Android users.

However, Google+ continues to be male-dominant, Nearly 16 percent of Google+ for Android users in the study were male compared to just 7 percent of Google+ users who are women.

Net-net, the results Nielsen discovered from gauging Android phones showed much of the same application use from the desktop translated to the smartphone. No wonder why developers are pouring millions of man hours and dollars into the mobile Web.

Indeed, IDC said mobile device users, including smartphone and tablet owners, will surpass wired device services such as desktops by 2015.