Mar 28, 2010

Nielsen’s New App Playbook Debunks Mobile App Store Myth

March 24, 2010

Mobile carrier app stores are a long way from dead. Despite the fanfare around application stores tied to specific mobile devices such as iPhones and BlackBerries, a new Nielsen survey finds ongoing loyalty to carrier stores.  As of the end of 2009, half of all applications users were accessing carrier app stores according to Nielsen’s new App Playbook.
That said, the Apple App Store was the clear leader in preferred application stores in the United States and, combined with the dedicated AT&T Application Store, devices running on the AT&T network have the most popular stores.
The relatively new BlackBerry App World Store was the second most popular app store due to BlackBerry’s industry-leading installed base.
Carrier application stores come in next on the rankings due to the size of their subscriber base, suggesting users of more standard feature phones drove much of this ongoing popularity.
Nielsen’s App Playbook  surveys more than 4,000 application downloaders in the United States every six months about their mobile application usage. It allows companies in the mobile ecosphere to monitor the transition and growth of the application market as mobile users shift from feature phones to smartphones.
Not surprisingly smartphone users were generally using applications more than feature phone users – only 12% of feature phone owners have downloaded an app in the past 30 days while 46% of smartphone owners have —  with application usage driven mostly by the iPhone and Android devices. This was due to the size of the application universe offered on both platforms, which was significantly larger than that of the other platforms. BlackBerry’s relatively low number was due to the significant corporate user share, which often locks the device and only allows corporate IT to install applications on the device.
Among recent acquirers, BlackBerry continued to be the market share leader among smartphones in the U.S., while Apple’s iPhone continued to increase its market share, especially after the launch of the iPhone 3GS in June 2009. The launch of a significant number of Android devices in the latter part of 2009, drove its market share to 5% at the end of the year and set it on a promising trajectory for 2010. Both Microsoft and Palm were unable to capitalize on their new launches in 2009 of Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 and the Palm Pre and Pixi, losing 7% market share and 4% market share respectively. Symbian, one of the leading smart phone operating systems globally continues to struggle to make significant inroads in the United States.
With only eight Android devices launched in 2009 – and the Droid launching late in the year – the Android Market Store saw modest popularity.   Since then, a large number of Android devices launched, and the popularity of the Android Market Store is expected to increase as a result. This is further illustrated by the high satisfaction scores the Android Market received in the Nielsen study, second only to the Apple App Store. The Palm Application Store seems to be languishing due to the relatively modest success of the new Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, combined with a comparatively low number of applications available in its app store. The same is true for the Windows Marketplace, which is also suffering from a low number of applications and dwindling market share for Windows Mobile devices.
The Apple App Store and the Android Market Place have a sizable lead in terms of satisfaction compared to the other application stores. We see similar sized leads for both the Apple App Store and the Android Market Place when it comes to satisfaction with the pricing of the apps. While the often-overlooked carrier application stores are significantly behind the two leaders in terms of satisfaction, they are still marginally ahead of the BlackBerry App World and Windows Marketplace. It will be interesting to see how the just-announced revamp of the Windows Marketplace will impact satisfaction scores and what RIM will do in their next iteration of App World.
About Nielsen’s App Playbook
Insights from Nielsen’s App Playbook were gathered from 4,265 respondents who had downloaded an application in the past 30 days, 2,351 of which owned a smartphone and 1,914 of which owned a feature phone.  The respondents were identified through Nielsen’s Mobile Insights syndicated tracking study, which surveys 80,000 mobile subscribers per quarter.  The App Playbook sample is weighted back to the total qualified population from the Nielsen Mobile Insights survey.  The survey covers a wide range of topics related to applications, including audience profiling, market sizing, download and purchase behavior, app store channel, app usage and satisfaction.