Downloading free apps is fast approaching listening to music as the most popular activity on iTunes.
The proportion of iTunes users listening to music files dropped from 54% in 2012 to 41% so far this year, while the share of users downloading free apps rose to 35% from 28%, according to new findings from NPD Group. The share of iTunes users buying individual digital songs held steady at 29%.
“Even though apps are a growing part of the iTunes experience, one in four respondents reported using iTunes to sample music, so the discovery component that is so key to selling music is still strong,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “It will be interesting to see the extent to which music re-establishes dominance, when iTunes Radio launches later this year.”
In June, the company announced plans to launch its own ad-supported Internet radio service to compete with Pandora and Spotify, as well as Google’s newer music streaming service, All Access. Nearly half (48%) of U.S. smartphone users listen to music on their handsets, according to comScore.
When it comes to iOS users (on iPhones, iPads and iPods), nearly all (95%) are downloading free apps, while the share of paid app buyers shrank slightly to 69% from 72%. However, the average of eight paid apps downloaded per user remained unchanged from last year. Apple announced in May that more than 50 billion apps had been downloaded from the App Store to date.
Games are the most popular free apps among iOS users this year, with 81% downloading them. Other top categories include social networking (70%), utilities (55%), and music (54%). Games also led by far in paid app downloads (72%), trailed music (18%), and health and fitness (13%). People essentially don’t want to spend on apps much outside of games.
If given $25 to spend, over 90% of people wouldn’t buy a newspaper or magazine, only 12% would buy a book, and 15% would buy a movie, according to NPD. The research firm’s data came from its 2013 Consumer Usage & Market Dynamics report, based on 3,740 completed surveys from iTunes users, and 1,448 from non-Tunes users. The data was weighted according to the U.S. population of Internet users 13+.