Half of US smartphone users don’t download apps

As Google and Apple slug it out to see which one has the biggest app store, new research shows that just about half of US smartphone users never download any apps at all.

ComScore’s recent 2016 US Mobile App Report (you can get this free by registering on the site) indicates that 49% of smartphone users in the US have never downloaded a single app, including of course apps designed to provide accessibility.

While that may be a disturbing number for app developers to contemplate, the figure is down from 70% in September 2015, so people may be getting more comfortable with using smartphones, or apps such as Pokémon Go and Uber may have ramped up app downloading.

The report, which deep-dives into some of the largest and fastest growing apps, including Facebook, Snapchat and Pokémon Go, found that fewer than 13% (of the 51% that use apps) account for more than half of all the download activity in the USA. That equates to 7.5% of all smartphone users, and most of these are millennials.

Digital media time in the U.S. continues to increase, growing at close to 20% a year for the past three years, with nearly all of that growth resulting from mobile apps. In fact, mobile is now the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for two-thirds of digital media time spent, and smartphone apps alone now responsible for around half of all digital media time. And some commentators say that the power of habit is a big reason why apps have become such a powerful force in many people’s daily media lives.

However, there’s a clear message for smartphone makers – they need to ship their devices with a suitable range of market-relevant, pre-loaded apps including Facebook and YouTube (or their regional equivalents) along with productivity apps such as Office 365 or iOS/Google equivalents.

Some observers also believe that the results point to the fact that half of US users use their smartphone just as a mobile phone, not caring about the ‘computer in the pocket’ experience, which is another worrying sign for app developers.

This take on the research findings is also backed up by recent Statistica data that shows a typical US user spends an average (across all brands and specifications) of US $261.30 on a device, which is forecast to fall to $214.7 by 2019.

A new grant-funded website created by Media Access Australia focusses on promoting hi-tech devices that can provide a ‘computer in a pocket’ or on a USB for that matter, with a wide variety of accessible options priced under $250 AUD. Check out the Affordable Access website for all the details.