Not all apps are created equal — there is a world of difference between downloads and habitual use. This USA TouchPoints analysis combines average weekly
reach across mobile devices (cell phone, tablet eBook reader) by app category across different age groups to paint a comparative picture of use by reach.
Inevitably, different app categories have their banner brand, such as Facebook and Twitter, Weather.com, Angry Birds and the rest. But when taken in aggregate, they clearly have an impact on the category as a whole.
Another factor to bear in mind when interpreting such data are variables such as competing screens and daypart usage. We know, for example, that a great deal of social media use takes place on the computer and that social media use overall peaks in the evening, much like TV. Both factors play well to the potential use of laptop computers as the device of choice.
Games have also becomes a major factor on mobile devices. Whether casual or social gaming, the new competitor to everything from console gaming to browsing the Web is the growth of app-based gaming and its appeal across age groups.
Interestingly, the conventional wisdom that younger people simply engage more with emerging media and tech is not borne out in this analysis. Reach of social media apps is about the same between 18-24s and 25-34s, with the latter just winning out. The only category in which the younger group has a clear lead is games. It also has a 1% lead in Music/Audio/Podcasts.
Otherwise, the best-performing age group overall in terms of reach via app category is the 25-34s. This is likely influenced, in part, by the higher cost of tablets and high-end smartphones. The data plans that support full use require higher incomes than are enjoyed by most 18-24 year olds. Perhaps this will change in time, but for now, apps are not the sole preserve of the young.