How many apps do most smartphone users download per month? Answer: 0

How many apps do most smartphone users download per month? Answer: 0

Summary: According to a new report, the entire app ecosystem is being driven by about one-third of smartphone owners, with seven percent of owners downloading nearly half of all the apps.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Android, Apps, iOS
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While apps certainly existed before the iPhone – anyone else here remember downloading stuff onto iPAQs and such? – there's no doubt that it was Apple who popularized the concept. But despite smartphones spreading like wildfire, the majority of US smartphone users don't download new apps over the course of a typical month.

The claims are made by comScore’s new mobile app report, and they seem to suggest that the entire app ecosystem is driven by about one-third of smartphone owners, with "nearly half of all download activity in a given month."

(Source: comScore)

So what's going on here? There are a number of possibilities:

  • People download the apps they need and then stick with those.
  • It's hard to find new apps.
  • People have to wade through too much junk.
  • Apps are too expensive.
  • The mobile platforms have in-built features that negate the need to download apps.
  • There's a potential gulf between iOS and Android that this data doesn't distinguish between.

That last point is worth bearing in mind considering that in June Apple bragged that it had clocked 75 billion App Store downloads since its doors opened, and then claimed that July was its best month ever for App Store revenue, with a record number of people downloading apps.

No matter what the reason, if these figures are close to reality then there's enormous potential for growth in app sales and distribution. 

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Apps, iOS

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25 comments
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  • It's herd behaviour

    It's the mindless herd that are persuaded to buy smartphones on the basis of an app ecosystem for which 90% of the apps are never even seen let alone downloaded.
    Xippy
    • And you?

      How mindless do you have to be to spend your days reading about and posting articles related to a topic for which you profess utter contempt?
      Henry 3 Dogg
      • Wow you must really love apps

        Are you for real lol. Such anger over a small comment.

        "utter contempt" you really need a relaxing massage and a day at the spa. There's probably an app for it
        Xippy
    • If thats indeed what people do your right.

      This is indeed proof of one more time of too many of the tech writers and some of the insane posters around ZDNet getting it wrong.

      It dosnt seem to matter how much you preach common sense around here that's for sure. Its ludicrous.

      When you speak out and tell people around here that the majority of people do not thrive on countless apps for their smartphones you have people still spewing out complete garbage as to how having an app store with 250000 apps is such a drawback for a smartphone as compared to having an app store with 500000 apps.

      It plain and simply isn't that big a drawback. Sure, its one thing if you do really rely heavily on a specific app or two that one store has and another dosnt, but there are countless millions of these smartphones out there and the VAST majority don't belong to tech hungry biased maniacs. Most belong to average people who don't have much of a clue about tech generally and don't care that much about apps. Give them a small handful of games and a way to email and connect to social media and they are set to go. Some permanently if not at least for years.

      So one again the reports finally prove out what those around here who actually live and work around normal humans have known forever, and that is most people don't care that much about apps. A little yes, but for most people who mostly want the best easiest and intuitive OS on some decent and not overly expensive hardware, the sheer volume of apps the phone has available to it just isn't, or at least should almost never be the game breaker if they are one of the countless millions who just want a good solid easy to use reliable phone more than anything.

      But of course, we are still going to have fools come on here and tell us how important it is for the phone with the largest app collection at their store to have some big important advantage by default. As we see, in real life that just isn't the case. Or at least it shouldn't be. Unless of course Xippy, above, is absolutely correct and people are simply mindlessly letting biased sales people and some tech headed friends convince them that the best phone always comes with the availability of the most apps so that's a real important reason for Mr. & Ms. Joe Average to ignore other possible choices.

      As usual, ridiculous.
      Cayble
  • more like 99.99 % - seriously with over a million apps

    .1% would be 1000. completely insane.

    There's an App For That and the APP Ecosystem is pure marketing. The Mobile browser is so weak you can't use the device without a custom app for it. So.. just get people thinking they have to have an app... brainwashing 101.

    Unlike a device with a full browser that doesn't need apps to be useable.
    greywolf7
    • And you?

      Didn't anybody buy your app then?
      Henry 3 Dogg
  • How many apps do most smartphone users download per month? Answer: 0

    Then make the app that is worth downloading on the ecosystem where it can be seen. That would be the Microsoft Windows Store. Microsoft Windows Phone may not have the same number of apps which means potential growth for app developers. If I were to create a new breakout app that would be the target platform to go for.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • @Loverock.Davidson -- a recent study shows that

      the windows store grew only after developers were paid by MS up to $2000 to develop apps. The number artifically grew quickly with mostly expensive "how to" apps, and apps that just open a web site and other cruft. Any actual decent apps that are there are engulfed in a sea of lookalikes and counterfeit making discovery difficult.

      I'm not trying to pick on windows phone, just relaying some facts FYI before you start developing that app.
      drwong
      • Link?

        Didn't think so. Nice try.
        siskol
  • I don't believe it

    I do not know a single person who has not added at least one app. Not a single person.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • On a monthly basis it's plausible

      In my experience, people download a bunch to fit their basic needs when they first get their device, thereafter only when they recognize a need. My kid started college so I'll download the app for that school so that I can get info on events or...download a Shakespeare app or I'm about to travel to the EU, so download Word Lens or a few new games to keep me amused on the plane. Those aren't real examples, but I think the pattern is about right. That way they would download maybe a handful of apps a year...but not every month.
      UGottaBKidding
    • Depends on your phone

      With a Windows Phone I have all the functionality I need and after downloading Skype and Wordament, I've had no need for any further apps as I use the browser. If I could find a use for Twitter, I might install that (but I'd probably just use the website), but I've seen no need for anything else.
      I'm sure there are a number of people who download games, picture apps and whatever is the flavour of the month at the moment, but I suspect as the study indicates, they're in the minority.
      Tony_McS
      • Duh

        Nobody needs, for its own sake, another app.

        But when there is an app that does something worthwhile for you, then you'll want that app.

        Of course for Windows Phone, you are unlikely to find any other apps that do anything worthwhile. So you won't need them.

        Duh
        Henry 3 Dogg
        • Sorry. Wrong.

          I used to own an iPhone for 3 years. Great phone.

          I now own a Windows phone 8, for me a much better phone.

          Im like the countless average millions in the world who don't need an app to show me the best way to pick my nose so even though the Windows store DIDNT have a pile of useless apps it had the four or five that I put to use from time to time and a few games to busy my mind when it suites the need.

          SO ya, your just about as wrong as a person could possibly be on that.

          Really stupid and pointless comments Henry 3 Dogg.
          Cayble
    • My other half

      had an iPhone for over a year, before switching to a Nokia Lumia 620.

      On the iPhone she never installed a single app. She didn't even generate an Apple account. It was her first smartphone and the default apps did everything she wanted.

      With the Lumia, she already had a Microsoft account through her use of Windows 8, so she has downloaded a couple of games on that, but I would guess she has probably downloaded less than 4 apps in the 6 months she has had the Lumia.
      wright_is
    • re: "I don't believe it"

      the key phrase here is "per month". I can name a whole bunch of people who downloaded a few apps when they got the phone and were done with it... until it's time to upgrade the phone
      vpupkin
    • Ohhh...well, thats you, fine.

      But quite frankly, I know and work around dozens of people daily, every one of them has a smartpohone, they have to. Couldn't do their job without one. And none of them, not one ever speaks a word about "apps". I never hear anyone say, "check out this app", or "I think there is an apps that can do that on your phone", or "I wonder if there is some kind of app I can get to do this". Nothing.

      I see people play the odd game for a bit now and then, I see people check social now and then, I see people map stuff out or use smartphone GPS now and then, but seriously, you have to get real, most people don't need or want any but a few of these apps. Hardly any compared to the sheer numbers available.

      These are simple average non-tech people, in my area professionals who just don't need or want any of these so called apps. I know all sorts and kinds mostly by far of non-tech minded people who do not even consider there phone as a source of computing most times beyond email and social.

      This bizarre disparity between the mind of the multitude of the common man which are the vast majority in the world and so many tech heads is unbelievable. I know a number of tech people who are all very bright people, but it never occurred to me until recent years reading here on ZDNet that so many people in the IT field seem to have this completely misguided bizarre thought process that anybody much outside the IT industry cares much of a hoot about technology the way they do.

      THEY DONT. FIGURE IT OUT AND GET USED TO IT.

      Ive become convinced that this is why we constantly see so many ridiculous predictions of various companies failing and various bits and pieces of technology failing when common sense gleaned through the simple knowledge of what the vast majority of the people in the world generally think about these issues would quickly indicate that nobody cares that much. Sometimes hardly at all. Often not at all.

      Things like the tech heads around here who go on and on about some latest Windows patch gone less then perfect. NOBODY CARES.

      Some tech heads that go on about the iOS preach. HARDLY ANYONE CARES.

      ALL THE TECH HEADS who go on and on and on and on about how many apps Apple has in its store. NOBODY CARES.

      Listening to too many of you guys, for average people, who just don't care much about tech, which Im sorry to tell you is the vast majority of the world, is like listening to a bunch of GEEKS sitting around arguing about who would win in a fist fight, Mr. Spock or Worf. Normal people who have a life JUSY DONT CARE.

      The real shame of it is, the few moments they do care about something tech, to some degree, is for the few moments they are contemplating how to spend their dollars, sometimes, and then they of course listen to whatever biased GEEK, usually the salesperson, is yapping into their ear about how this one is better or that one is crap or this one is the best, and they make some relatively "snap" decision based on that. Sometimes, and certainly too often.

      The problem is ZDNet, the average person JUST DOSNT CARE THAT MUCH.

      I get it that the people around here mostly work in the industry and are often in close quarters with others who do, and are usually dealing with people on the job who seem to care at the time they are dealing with them. This, if you didn't know creates an aura of a false environment where you can be lead to believe that the world around you is largely involved with what interests you. This has been a long known effect.

      BUT IS FALSE.

      How many people here realized that large numbers of regular drug users and alcoholics have a skewed view that far more people are alcoholics or are regular drug users than really exist, usually by a significant margin? Its a well known phenomenon that people who are involved in regular criminal activity, particularly various forms of organized crime tend to think more people are involved in crooked and illegal activity then there really are.

      When people live in a particular world, surrounded by a somewhat, to significantly disproportioned like minded number of individuals, compared to the vast majority of society, they begin to believe that far more of the world takes interest or partakes in the same activities and kinds of thinking they do. They are dead wrong of course. Dead wrong. But they still think that way.

      As much as many of the articles on ZDNet intrigue me, and certainly much of the banter on the reader posts provides for great venting and anything from rational to completely irrational argument and discussion, one thing has become very very apparent on ZDNet.

      The website largely as a whole lacks any broad or significant insight in many many instances as to what the countless millions of very average typical non tech minded people around the world will think about much of anything.

      A perfect example was when Google Glass first came out. I thought it was interesting, but I said RIGHT OFF THE TOP, average people will not want this device roaming the streets. AVERAGE PEOPLE.

      I was told I was crazy and I must be a tech hater, I was told there are countless business and security cameras spying on me already and why should I care. I told them, they had better face reality, it really wasn't me they had to worry about, I told them if they just USED COMMON SENSE they would understand AVERAGE non tech minded people will not like it much.

      Well...no. I sure cant make the geek minded understand. That I see now. But what I don't understand is that you can say what you like about tech geek types, but they are generally good people and usually very smart people, I just don't understand why when it comes to just wanting to know and understand reality and truth about various products, companies and ideas in their own area of work they often cant get a grip on the same true reality that many non tech minded can about those simple aspects.
      Cayble
  • I tend to believe it

    there are power users who use an app for everything. I have 5-6 apps that I use regularly besides the ones that come with the phone for example; dialer, calender, contacts, music player etc. I suspect most smartphone users are the same, they get an app that works from them and they stick with it.
    Low_tech
    • Exactly!!!

      The fact is, I read talk all the time on ZDNet about how important it is for the app stores to have a vast number of apps available and I read these articles and post where people say they had trouble getting this app or that one that they need. The general tenure of a lot of the conversation about apps and app stores is that its incredibly important, to what can often be a good reason for a deal breaker, when the store is not massive enough.

      It implies that people are to a significant number, app hungry and require lots of them. Perhaps slowed down more rational thinking might lead many to say "well...not exactly...", but hell! What do you think it sounds like when its always made such a huge deal about it???

      I never recall reading anything ever like "You know, this here app store has hundreds of thousands of apps, and the fact is that for the vast majority of the population there is more than enough there to cover the vast majority of all their needs even if a few popular ones are still not available yet, it should not affect that many people that it would ever affect their smartphone purchasing concerns".

      NEVER HEAR THAT. Yet its actually the reality. SO a few people here and there don't get every single app that they might like today. Maybe they do tomorrow, and the rest of the people can get more than enough to make them plenty happy today. THATS THE REALITY.

      But when speaking about app stores you never hear that in an article. Its always the same, and it makes it sound more than a little that you might be left howling in the streets with anger over some shortage of apps.

      Its so not how the general pubic sees the situation in reality. At all.
      Cayble
  • A little misleading

    That's a little misleading because that could also mean apps installed divided by total number of months the phone is owned. Unless you're a big game player, most of the downloads are going to happen in the first month.
    Buster Friendly