When Are Mobile Owners Using Apps?

November 4, 2014

Nielsen-Situation-Use-of-Mobile-Apps-Nov2014Mobile owners tend to download applications out of a desire for leisure or entertainment and due to recommendations from friends, reveals Nielsen in a recent study. The survey also examined situational use of apps, looking at the occasions when app downloaders can be found using them. Of note, downtime appears to be a key reason for mobile app use.

Indeed, a leading 70% of smartphone app downloaders and 65% of tablet app downloaders reported having used apps during the prior 30 days while alone or by themselves. Closely following, 68% of smartphone app downloaders and 63% of tablet app downloaders said they had used them while bored or killing time.

The findings are bolstered by research released last year which indicated that “found time” ”“ times during the day when device owners have nothing to do, such as while they’re waiting in line ”“ is a particularly strong driver of smartphone use. A separate study released a couple of months earlier found that 52% of UK smartphone owners would prefer to check their phone during any downtime rather than sit and think. This “always on” nature of mobile devices makes them a particularly intriguing channel for marketers.

Returning to the Nielsen survey, the results indicate that smartphone app downloaders are more likely than their tablet counterparts to use apps while waiting for something or someone (61% vs. 48%), with this likely due to smartphones being a more portable device than tablets. Conversely, tablet owners are more likely to be found using apps while watching TV (54% vs. 48%), a result that aligns with research showing tablet use to be widespread in front of the TV.

Separately, Nielsen notes that app downloaders will pay for games, reading (books/magazines), music and video/movie apps, but are less inclined to do so for social networking, discount/coupon or payment apps.

About the Data: The insights from Nielsen’s Mobile Applications Playbook were gathered from 3,743 respondents’ age 13+ years who have downloaded an application to their device in the past 30 days. The distribution by device is 2,707 smartphone owners and 1,027 tablet owners. The respondents completed an online, self-administered, English-language survey in August 2014. Past 30-day downloaders were identified through Nielsen’s Mobile Insights syndicated tracking study.

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