So this chart has popped up from Nielsen today, as part of ‘the first mobile media rankings based on audience measurement data from metered Android smartphone usage’. Righto, Nielsen. Anyway, apart from the fact that they need to make their goddamn images larger, what does it tell us?
Well, firstly, that there seem to be a solid 9.5% of people who didn’t even open the app store this month. Assuming that Nielsen have stuck to measuring active users as claimed, there are two possible reasons for this: either these users are downloading all their apps via other means, or they simply have everything they think they need. I’m leaning toward the latter. To me, though, 10% actually seems like quite a low number. This would indicate that people are still downloading apps out of curiosity or boredom long after their core needs – email, browsing, picture management – have been satisfied. Clearly, the attention of the majority is still up for grabs for developers, but the rate of use also indicates a fickle beast: a strong value proposition is more important than ever.
Secondly, use of Facebook among women beats out men by a healthy 14%, albeit with 8.7% of men using Google+ more. Still, that’s not enough to make up the deficit, and if you throw in +3% more use of Twitter, this would appear to indicate that women prefer social networks to men. As this measures basic use of the app, the only way that the numbers could be misleading would be if men were still accessing these services only via their sites, or disproportionately using text-to-Tweet. These both seem unlikely given the ease and single-purpose nature of the apps. The male-heavy early adoption of Google+ follows the trend of previous social networks, which too have since been taken up by women in greater numbers. Whether G+ will mimic or buck this trend remains to be seen. I think it needs time to accrue more users in general. With only 11.8% of the active userbase – which itself is 42% of the entire market – that’s just 5% of smartphone users using the new social network. Google will no doubt be looking to grow that number by weaving it more tightly into Android and Google Profiles.
An addendum to gender. The point about maps, Nielson: it’s not ‘despite the stereotype that men don’t like asking for directions’. Men don’t like to admit they don’t know directions. Maps empowers them to do a good job faking it.
Next, there’s a small bias from men toward utility apps, such as QuickOffice and Adobe Reader, but there’s little difference between the sexes here. What’s more interesting – without getting distracted by gender-typing – is that over a quarter of smartphone user seem to use these ‘work’ apps. I doubt that all these people have the kind of jobs that would make such use absolutely mandatory, and so I think we can probably interpret this as the product of a number of different stimuli: convenience, deliberation and novelty. I imagine there is an element of choice when it comes to viewing documents on a smartphone, as frankly it’s cooler than using a desktop. What does that mean for marketers and developers? Well, it’s paving the way for the consumerisation of IT. The remote office will be a Big Deal in the next 5 years, and will necessitate a new kind of work/home hybrid mobile software with enterprise levels of security and compatability. There’s going to be a lot of money in solving these problems, assuming Google Docs doesn’t eclipse the competition.
Lastly, there are some things that are obviously missing. With the caveat that this is the US and so only just now sampling the delights of Spotify, music services seem underrepresented. Pandora isn’t quite the same. I suppose this is largely because of iTunes being built in to Apple products, but there’s surely ground for expansion here. There’s also a conspicuous absence of financial service software. It’s still a bit early for NFC and Mobile Wallet, though we can expect to see it soon – but there is nothing in the top 20 that hints at finance at all. It seems odd in these economically troublesome times, but perhaps people simply don’t want that sort of functionality. I do also recall that banks in America are a much more scattered affair, with lots of regional and state-specific institutions. It seems as though banks could capitalise on capturing this kind of data, though. Wouldn’t knowing where and when consumers were thinking about money be a powerful bit of information?
It will be interesting to see this again in a year’s time.