We Like Our Smartphones, But We Love Our Apps
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
It’s been called the “New Gold Rush“: Mobile phone applications have been a part of a booming industry, and as everything goes mobile, so too goes the money.
Apps range from essential to silly to mundane, giving us the ability to cash checks, trade stocks, measure our sleeping patterns and order pizza, and everyone wants a piece. Driving these app sales is the ever-growing penetration of smartphones, 144,391.7 of which were sold globally last quarter alone.
Now, a report from Nielsen says 1 in every 2 mobile phone subscribers owns a smartphone and has downloaded at least 41 apps per device.
According to the report, even more astonishing is where the state of mobile apps was just one year ago.
When Nielsen summarized the state of smartphone adoption last year, less than 40% of American mobile subscribers had smartphones. Since then, new smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy phones and HTC’s Android offerings have boosted this number. In fact, the Nielsen report shows Android and iOS users have more than doubled in the last year and account for 88% of those who have downloaded an app within the last 30 days. Altogether, the number of apps per device has jumped 28% from 32 apps to 41.
As we buy more smartphones and download more apps, we are also beginning to spend more time awash in the soft glow of our smart devices, as the report shows smartphone users are spending more time inside apps than surfing the mobile web. Time spent inside apps is up 10% from last year.
The top five most popular apps, as listed by the report are Facebook, YouTube, Android Market, Google Search and Gmail. Every day an average of 39 minutes is spent within these apps per person.
An area for concern by these smartphone fans continues to be privacy, as 73% of those surveyed said they were “uneasy” with the way their personal data was collected. 55% of those surveyed said they were tentative in sharing their location data with the carriers or other users.
Such data may be helpful for companies who are looking to expand their horizons and earning potential, as more people are calling out for ways to use their smartphones to do everyday tasks. For instance, NFC technology has been rumored for years to make its way to Apple’s iPhone. While the technology has already been implemented in a few Android phones here and there, Apple has yet to embrace the feature which allows users to use their phones like cash. Some apps allow this kind of functionality—for instance, the Starbucks app lets you load Starbucks cards onto the app and pay via barcode—though true NFC (or near field communication) technology gives you the ability to simply wave your device in front of a reader. In this case, your payment could be directly withdrawn from an account, doing away with clumsy cash or cards.
While this sounds like a promising and elegant solution, some warn this technology could cause more headache and privacy issues than it’s worth.
In a 2010 piece on McAfee’s blog, Jimmy Shah said NFC technology is only as secure as the OS it runs on, and while the 2010 Nexus S boasted NFC, Shah said the Android OS it was running on had plenty of holes.
“Essentially it may be possible for an attacker to create a malicious web page that when visited by an Android phone lets the attacker gain root access. At this point, an attacker can intercept or bypass any security protections guarding sensitive information, such as the contents of your NFC ’wallet’”