Apps Not as Big Among Phone Users: Pew Report

Apps may be big news among developers, but a new Pew Research Center survey suggests that phone owners are slower to download and use apps on their devices.

Apps may be the current buzzword among developers and phone manufacturers, but a new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project suggests that only 35 percent of U.S. adults have apps installed on their phones.

Of adults using cell phones, only 24 percent actually report using those apps-and another 11 percent have no idea if their phone is equipped with apps in the first place. That being said, overall use of cell phones has increased over the past few years, with 82 percent of adults reporting cell phone ownership; on top of that, some 23 percent of surveyed adults lived in a household with a cell phone but no landline.

"An apps culture is clearly emerging among some cell phone users, particularly men and young adults," Kristen Purcell, associate director for research at the Pew Internet Project, wrote in the overview to the group's report. "Still, it is clear that this is the early stage of adoption when many cell phone owners do not know what their phone can do. The apps market seems somewhat ahead of a majority of adult cell phone users."

The full report, titled "The Rise of Apps Culture," can be found at this link.

Entertainment apps proved the most popular, however predictably, followed by information-centric apps such as maps and news. But other phone functions, including taking a photo and sending text messages, ranked far higher on the list of users' phone activities.

One in 10 adult cell phone users reported downloading an app in the past week, while one in eight reported paying to download an app. The average cell phone user had a mean of 18 apps on their device. "However, the median number of apps is 10, indicating there are heavy apps users on the high end of the response scale who have a disproportionate number of apps on their phones," the report's overview reads. "This is particularly true among the youngest adults."

In addition to Pew's own survey of 2,252 adults, conducted between April 29 and May 30, the group also pulled in data from a December 2009 Nielsen survey of 3,962 adult cell phone subscribers who downloaded an app within the past 30 days. Pew's research total sample contained 1,917 adult cell phone users, 744 of whom were contacted on their devices.

"This is a pretty remarkable tech-adoption story, if you consider there was no apps culture until two years ago," Roger Entner, co-author of the report and a senior vice president at Nielsen, wrote in a Sept. 14 statement. "Every metric we capture shows a widening embrace of all kinds of apps by a widening population. It's too early to say what this will eventually amount to, but not too early to say this is an important new part of the technology world of many Americans."