Pricing, Security Deter Mobile App Downloads, Says Survey

The price of mobile applications and a fear of offering credit card digits are the major factors preventing some consumers from purchasing mobile apps, says a modest study by Asknet. The majority of those who do buy apps spent less than $50 over the year, mostly on music.

Analysts are expecting mobile application sales to rocket upward over the next several years. However, there are still a few factors preventing some consumers from shopping, according to a modest poll conducted in late 2009 by Asknet, the maker of a "mobile shopping cart" solution that facilitates the purchases of mobile apps.

A major deterrent for 38 percent of survey respondents, Asknet reports, is the price of applications, while 29 percent said they didn't feel comfortable offering their credit card information for purchases. Overall, 34 percent of respondents called buying applications "not worth the time or effort."

(That 38 percent may want to know that Gartner expects that eight out of 10 applications downloaded in 2010 will be free.)

The survey consisted of 400 smartphone users and was conducted in Boston and San Francisco. Asknet reports that 45 percent of those surveyed had never bought an application or software for their smartphone. Of the 55 percent that had, 87 percent spent less than $50 over the last year, while 3 percent spent between $51 and a $100 and 1 percent spent more than $150.

Music comprised the bulk of purchases, or 61 percent. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they'd bought games, 35 percent had bought ringtones, 33 percent spent on news, 29 percent bought GPS or location-aware software and nearly a third, or 27 percent, purchased business applications.

"Mobile commerce is a rapidly maturing market. We have seen e-commerce continue to gain widespread user acceptance," Aston Fallon, president of Asknet, said in a Jan. 21 statement.

"At this point, we believe that the barrier has moved beyond just the hesitation of the consumer. Our survey suggests that the mechanisms for e-commerce may be having the greatest effect on the rate at which consumers embrace smartphones for mobile purchasing," Fallon continued. "It is up to handset manufacturers to work in tandem with mobile developers to create more secure, user-friendly platforms to promote the adoption of e-commerce."

Motorola, coincidentally, announced on Jan. 22 that it was opening an Android app store for Android handset owners in China, which would additionally make it easy for developers to promote and market their applications to end users.

Asknet adds that Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets and the Apple iPhone were the most popular devices among the smartphone users in surveyed. In Boston, 53 percent of those polled owned a BlackBerry, 37 percent owned an iPhone and 10 percent owned devices by other manufacturers.

In San Francisco, the mixed-bag of "other manufacturers" accounted for 41 percent of those polled, while 34 percent owned a BlackBerry and 25 percent owned an iPhone.