April 24 2012

Apps? Fun Stuff vs Productive Tools

Related Solutions: Consumer
Related Skill Sets: 2D, 3D, Flash, Interactive

By now you’ve seen the commercial a dozen times. The little-girl-turned-aspiring-actress that bemoans her parents’ data plan. Seems the folks have had to make some tough decisions as to what stays and what goes on the old “smartie” phone. Hello, micro-strategy app: goodbye charming video of their daughter, dressed as a tree, and her stunning delivery of her only line in the school play (“Watch out for my roots!”).

She chides her parents, as only a precocious child actor can, about their prioritization of a business-related app over preserving this precious memory. “I don’t even know what [a micro-strategy app] is,” she despairs.

The ad got me thinking about the app market in general and my own proclivities among the apps I download and most frequently use.

Full Disclosure: I am a big fan of apps. I barely ever use them on my phone. I’ll explain that in a minute.

At work, we’re increasingly working and bidding on app related projects. And presently they seem to be pretty equally divided between training tools for business or business consumers–usually with some gamification element–versus straight-up games.

But which is more popular at large? Are most people like me and use their apps primarily for games and entertainment?

A quick jaunt to the App Store (or Google Play, if you’re so inclined) provides some interesting fodder for quantitative analysis. Both markets list their top apps in the Paid, Free and Grossing categories. Apple delineates between iPhone and iPad apps, while Google Play lumps them all in one. So, by aggregating these categories by app type, we find that  11 of the top 15 iPhone apps are “games,” two come under the “Photo + Video” type (both from the Free category), and one each from the “Entertainment” and “Sports” types. For iPads, not surprisingly, the top apps are more commonly business or productivity related. Five of the top iPad apps are identified as “games,”  3 come from the “Productivity” type, two from the “Book” type and one each from the “Photo + Video”, “Social Networking,” “Education,” “Finance,” and “Business” types. Interestingly, none of the Top Grossing Apps are games, which suggests users place a premium on the services that iPad apps provide and enable, rather than casual entertainment.

Conversely, none of the top free apps in Google Play are games, but four out of the top five grossing apps are. This may say more about the fact that Android does not delineate tablet from phone in its tallies than it does comparatively about Apple versus Android Users. Though Google Play doesn’t provide “type” information I would divide its tops sellers thusly: Seven are games; four are Google specific (like Street View, etc–all free); three are what I would call “device optimizing”  (Beautiful Widget, Titanium Backup Pro, Flash) and one is Sports. [Be forewarned, the above links will not be consistent with the snapshot of titles I've provided here, as the top apps are recalculated regularly.]

So back to that commercial…seems its logic is a bit spurious. The numbers indicate that people shoot video on their phones and do business/home office-type-stuff on their tablets. Not only are her parents callous; they’re using the wrong tool for the job.

As for me, I have a limited data plan on my Android phone and embrace it! I can check my email or surf  when I want to but keep the background data disabled otherwise. Who can afford an $85 dollar cell bill? For fun, I run apps on my iPad. Mostly, I do my business on the desktop and have almost completely foresaken the laptop. What about you?

Comment on this story