We Consistently Use Very Few Apps

By Deane Barker on February 1, 2012

Consumers ignore most apps on their smartphones: This confirms something I’ve suspected for a long time – we’re creatures of habit with phone apps, and we really consistently use very few.

Of smartphone owners, 68% open only five or fewer apps at least once a week, finds a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Seventeen percent don’t use any apps. About 42% of all U.S. adults have phones with apps, Pew estimates.

“The novelty wears off,” says Pew researcher Kristen Purcell.

Right now I’m thinking about jumping ship from Android to a Windows Phone, so I took inventory of what apps I would have to have to make the switch.  I only came up with three: Spotify, Runkeeper, and Evernote.  (Not coincidentally, I’m a paying customer of all three.) Every other app I use is just assumed to be in there (browser, email, calculator, etc. – the “core” apps) or something I tried but didn’t stick with.

I think games are an exception – people tend to cycle through those a lot.  But for every Angry Birds there are dozens that get played once or twice and then tossed.  And I can’t think of any phone game that would prevent me from switching phone platforms if other reasons dictate a need.

Whenever anyone raves to me about all the apps available for their new phone, I have to stifle the urge to say, “That’s great, but let’s see how many of those you’re using in six weeks…”