About four in 10 adult mobile users have apps on their phones but only two-thirds (68%) actually use them, according to a new report by the Pew Internet Project.
Using apps is still not among the most popular mobile data activities, with only 29% of mobile subscribers having downloaded an app. (Thirty-eight percent have gotten phones with pre-loaded apps.) People are more likely to use their phones to take a picture, text-message, browse the Web, email, record a video, play music and send instant messages than they are to access an app.
In its "Rise of Apps Culture" study released Tuesday, Pew points out there is no standard, industry-wide definition of "apps" but Pew defines them for its purposes as "end-user software applications that are designed for a cell phone operating system and which extend the phone's capabilities by enabling users to perform particular tasks."
Not surprisingly, the report found that app users skew younger, more male and more affluent than the general population. It also tends to be a slightly more Hispanic cohort, compared with other adult cell users. So 57% are male, 47% are under 30, 38% are college graduates, and 52% have annual income of $50,000 or more.
One in 10 of all cell phone users have downloaded an app in the last week, and 20% of those under 30 have done so. Among app users, one third said their most recent download was in the last week. Nearly half (47%) of those who download apps have gotten paid titles and 13% of all mobile users have downloaded paid apps. The study found no significant demographic differences between people who paid for apps and those who didn't.
The average cell subscriber has 18 apps on his phone. But heavy tech users in general are likely to have more and embrace other phone features more than typical subscribers. For instance, Twitter users and heavy cell voice users and texters had on average, 23, 27 and 32 apps, respectively.
App users are also much more likely to take advantage of other mobile data options such as email, texting, taking a photo or accessing social networking sites via their phone. They're also more apt to engage in a wide variety of online activities including getting news, watching video, buying a product and banking.
In addition to its own survey of 2,252 adults, the new Pew report also included data about The Nielsen Company's Apps Playbook, a December 2009 survey of 3,962 adult cell phone subscribers who had downloaded an app in the previous 30 days. Nielsen separately on Monday released a white paper summarizing the latest version of the Apps Playbook.