Study proves app store counts are basically worthless

A new study from Nielsen shows that most mobile device owners spend the majority of their time on a limited number of apps.

Many mobile app store providers, namely Apple and Google, go back and forth trying to boast the most number of mobile apps available possible. Although Apple usually wins, perhaps it doesn't matter in the end.

See also: Android owners hit the web hard, with only a few apps

A new survey from Nielsen reveals that "despite the hundreds of thousands of apps available for Android" (and this can likely be applied to iOS), only "a very small proportion of apps make up the vast majority of time spent."

Looking at the graph below, mobile device owners spent nearly half of their time on their top 10 favorite apps, leaving very little time available for anything else they have.

The Nielsen survey also found that the average Android user in the U.S. spends approximately one hour per day using the mobile web and apps, but roughly 40 minutes of that time is on mobile apps themselves. Thus, it's no surprise why we're seeing Apple and Google go the app route even on the desktop with the Mac App Store and Chrome Apps respectively -- this is obviously something that consumers are interested in.

Although Nielsen didn't specify which apps were the most common, based on my own experience, I'm willing to venture that most mobile device owners frequently check email apps, Facebook, Twitter, possibly Foursquare and other location-based check-in programs, and then a handful of their favorite news apps.

Also using my own iPhone as an example, I have nearly 75 apps installed on my smartphone. Many of them are apps that have been useful for at least one period of time in the past (i.e. public transit apps for navigating the Metro in Paris or a Lonely Planet travel guide app for Mexico City), but I don't use them again after that.

One lesson that can be derived from this survey is that although we might end up purchasing and downloading lots of apps (even those we might not really need), we're only going to use a few for the majority of the time.

Thus, using the amount of apps that a particular app store retains as a selling point is rather worthless at this point -- at least for Apple and Google, and possibly Amazon at this point. We know they have lots of apps, and that's great. These platforms are so established already that we don't have to worry about not finding relevant apps when purchasing mobile devices.

Now, if you purchased a webOS device lately, the story might be different...