See that lady at the mobile conference
with more apps on her iPad than logos on a NASCAR racer? You
know she's not using all of them. In fact, according to Gfk MRI, marketers and app makers should not
go out of their way to target the heavy tablet app downloaders one might assume are the platform's
Among tablet owners who maintain more than 20 apps on their device, only 16% say they use all of
them on a regular basis. On the other hand, 95% of the most discriminating downloaders -- those
with only one to nine apps on board -- say they use all the apps they acquire. Apparently, heavy tablet
app downloaders (I will cop to that) are app dilettantes who tend to sample and leave fallow many
programs, while focusing on a handful. Again, that would be me. I think I may have more than 20
apps on the first screen of my iPad alone, but my own evening app crawl is focused around about 10
apps (mostly aggregators like Flipboard, Zite and various digests) and about as many Safari browser
When it comes to app discovery, app stores remain far and away the leading source. Of the 3,000
consumers in Gfk MRI's iPanel, 80% say they get apps either through store browsing or by seeing an app
featured. Still, other media -- such as notices in newspapers and magazines-- are effective for 55%, and
linking from within another app drives 24%.
Interestingly, only 21% of tablet owners cite recommendations from friends and family. This last stat
on the power of recommendation on the tablet runs counter to a broader finding about app discovery,
mainly on cell phones, that MTV's Colleen Fahey Rush shared with us at OMMA Mobile back in June.
That survey of mobile users found that app discovery is "driven by buzz," she said, with 53% of users
coming to apps via friends' recommendations. This may indicate a difference in the portability of tablet
and mobile use. My guess is that, due partly to more out-of-home opportunity, a user is more apt to
show or demo an app to a friend on his or her cell phone than on a tablet, which arguably is used more
often alone and at home. But it suggests that the distribution strategies for mobile and tablet apps have
to be different, although the power of the app store remains strong for both devices. Fahey Rush also
mentioned that user reviews and ratings in the app stores are especially big drivers to downloading.
While many tablet publishers have succeeded in gaining paid customers and even subscription revenues
from their more elaborate and useful apps, the prospects for an ad-supported ecosystem are strongest.
Members of this Gfk MRI panel said that 66% of the apps they downloaded in the last 30 days were free
and 34% paid.