Mobile apps attract almost as much mobile device use as messaging, and exceed the totals for voice calls and web browsing, according to a January 2011 survey by Zokem Research.
According to the study, commissioned by Wireless Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, mobile apps are responsible for 667 minutes of use per user each month, almost as much as messaging (671 minutes), and far more than voice (531 minutes) and web browsing (422 minutes).
The research revealed some interesting distinctions between apps pre-installed before shipment and apps downloaded by the users. User-added apps dominated in categories including entertainment (including gaming) and social networking. For ’commodity’ functionality such as browsing, messaging and voice, people are more likely to use the pre-installed software.
Add-on apps made up to 20 percent of total face time, but accounted for 30 percent of data traffic. Social networking represented 32 percent of total traffic with multimedia being the biggest chunk of mobile data usage at 57 percent.
Almost 10 percent of all smartphone “face time” is through the use of social networking apps. In terms of actual usage, only two third-party apps have greater than 30 percent penetration: Facebook and YouTube.
The research also noted differences between the major smartphone platforms. iPhone and Android device owners use an average of 15 different apps per month, whereas the number is eight for BlackBerry and Symbian OS. iTunes and Android Market Place have a monthly reach of 95 percent of their user bases, whereas Blackberry App World reaches 50 percent of Blackberry users, and Nokia Ovi store only 26 percent of Symbian users.
During January 2011, the average user added 2.5 apps, and nearly half of all users had more at the end of the month than in the beginning. One-in-five users had less at the end of the period, however.
iPhones generated more than 200 percent more traffic per month on average than Android devices. Wi-Fi usage was about 11 percent of total traffic to/from devices.
Overall smartphone usage dropped at weekends but generically averaged more than 70 minutes per day with apps capturing more face time than any other activity at weekends.
The findings showed that SMS usage was higher in the mornings than voice and usage of social networking apps built up through the day and peaked at 9-10pm.