Skip to main content

Use is growing, but some adults still apps-backward

Doug Gross
While more U.S. adults have smartphones that run apps, only about 24 percent actually use them, a new survey says.
While more U.S. adults have smartphones that run apps, only about 24 percent actually use them, a new survey says.
  • Growing number of U.S. adults have phones with apps, but less 25 percent use them
  • Pew survey says more than one in 10 adults don't know whether their phone has apps
  • Study's authors say that app culture, only 2 years old, is growing

(CNN) -- About 35 percent of U.S. adults have mobile phones that run software applications, or apps, according to a new survey.

But fewer than one in four adults actually uses those apps. And more than one out of 10 said they're not even sure whether their phone runs apps.

Those are the findings of the latest report from the Pew Internet Project. It says that while more American consumers are comfortable downloading apps and using them on their phones, the trend appears to be in its infancy.

"An apps culture is clearly emerging among some cell phone users, particularly men and young adults," said Kristen Purcell, associate director for research at the Pew Internet Project.

"Still, it is clear that this is the early stage of adoption when many cell owners do not know what their phone can do. The apps market seems somewhat ahead of a majority of adult cell phone users."

Using apps still remains relatively low on the list of things adults do with their mobile phones, according to the survey.

About eight out of 10 adults are cell phone users, according to the report.

Among the cell-phone users surveyed, 76 percent said they'd used their phone to take a picture, 72 percent had used it to send or receive a text message and 38 percent had accessed the internet with their phone.

Only 29 percent of them had used an app.

The average adult has 18 apps on a phone, according to the survey.

Games are the most popular downloaded apps, based on a separate Nielsen survey included in the Pew report.

About 60 percent of apps users said they'd used a game app in the past month, 52 percent said they'd used one to get news or weather and 51 percent said they'd used a map app.

"This is a pretty remarkable tech-adoption story, if you consider that there was no apps culture until two years ago," said Roger Entner, co-author of the report and a senior vice president at Nielsen.

"It's too early to say what this will eventually amount to, but not too early to say that this is an important new part of the technology world of many Americans."

Tuesday's report is the latest in a series of recent surveys from Pew that show Americans interacting more with technology.

The research institution recently reported on a rise in the number of older adults flocking to social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It has also reported that the number of adults who send text messages is rising but still trails teens by a long shot.

The Pew report is based on a telephone survey of 2,252 U.S. adults 18 and older, conducted between April 29 and May 30.

The sample included 1,917 cell phone users, 744 of whom were contacted on their cell phones.


Most popular Tech stories right now