1 in 3 Adults Now Have Apps on Their Phones – Many Don’t Use Them

Adult cell phone users who use apps are younger, more educated and more affluent than other adults. Over the last few weeks, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has  been looking at how adults use technology, and a new report released today focuses on app usage among this age group. According to this report, apps are not indispensable for most adults. While about 35% of U.S. adults now have apps on their cell phones, only 24% of adults actually use them. About a tenth of all U.S. adults doesn’t even know if their phones can run apps.

Looking at the total range of things adults use their phones for, app usage tends to be relatively unimportant. While a lot of adults use their phones to take pictures (76%), send or receive text messages (72%), access the Internet (38%) and play music (33%), only 29% use apps. Unsurprisingly, adults who are more comfortable with technology in general also tend to use more apps on their cell phones. Clearly, there is still a large untapped market out there among adults. After all, more than 80% of adults currently own a cell phone, yet only 24% of them use apps.

Sadly, the researchers did not ask those who didn’t download apps why they weren’t interested in them. Kristen Purcell, the associate director for research at the Pew Internet Project, speculates that “it is clear that this is the early stage of adoption when many cell owners do not know what their phone can do. The apps market seems somewhat ahead of a majority of adult cell phone users.”

App Amnesia: People Don’t Know How Many Apps They Have

Among those adults who have used apps, half have actually paid for for them and they typically have around 10 on their phones, though there is clearly a group of very heavy apps users out there as well. Interestingly, most cell phone users – and especially those over 50 – don’t actually know how many apps they have.

Only about 60% of all app users actually organize their apps so that their favorites are easily accessible. While Apple’s new folders in the iOS 4 are a nifty feature for heavy users – there is clearly also a large market of users who only use a small number of apps and see no need to actually organize them in tidy little folders.

Most Popular Apps

Games are the most popular apps among adults (60%), closely followed by news and weather (52%), navigation (51%) and social networking apps 47%).

For more details, you can find the full report here.

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