How Many Apps Are Too Many? (eMarketer)

80% of tablet apps are discovered through app stores

The tablet app marketplace is expanding quickly—the Apple App Store alone has more than 90,000 apps for the iPad. Although many marketers are rushing to get their tablet apps to market, usage data indicates that consumers regularly use a limited number of apps.

Moreover, the number of apps a mobile device owner has downloaded does not necessarily reflect app usage. Among tablet owners who have downloaded just a few apps, 95% said they use them on a regular basis, according to GfK MRI. Only 37% of tablet owners who have downloaded 10 or more apps regularly use them, and that percentage shrinks further when users own more than 20 apps.

Regular Tablet App Usage Among U.S. Tablet Owners

Tablet app usage largely mirrors smartphone app usage. According to a study by IDG Global Solutions (IGS), the majority of mobile phone owners use fewer than 7 apps on a regular basis. Only 17% of respondents said they regularly use more than 10 apps.

Number of Apps Used Regularly by Mobile Phone Owners Worldwide

Certain app categories receive more traction than others. According to ISG, general news is the most commonly downloaded app category, followed by social media. Gaming, IT news and instant messaging are also popular tablet apps. App stores, while becoming more populated by the day, are still the best source of app discovery. According to GfK MRI, 80% of tablet apps are discovered through app stores.

Although mobile apps are the marketing trend du jour, marketers should not discount the mobile web as a channel to reach tablet and smartphone users. A survey of smartphone users by Yahoo! and Ipsos found that activities like shopping and searching were considered better suited for browsers while social media, maps and information were more commonly accessed through apps.

Further, according to IGS, using mobile applications is the third most common activity on a tablet. Web browsing is the most common content-related activity on tablet devices and reading emails is a close second.

Content Activities of Tablet Owners Worldwide

Marketers must be wary of the fierce competition to capture an on-the-go consumer’s attention. While apps for both smartphones and tablets deliver unique experiences and solid opportunities for engagement, consumers have a limited bandwidth for consumption. Marketers should first consider their target audience and their mobile habits and activities before bringing an app to market.

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