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Mobile apps, how we love them!

by Jessica Ekholm  |  January 24, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

Remember when apps were uber-cool and we’d spend hours searching for the coolest ones (or maybe that was just me?). I still remember my first mobile app I paid for and it was a game called “Little Things” and to this date it is probably one of the most engaging and beautiful apps I have used and I probably spend 1-2 hours with my nose in apps every day so yes I should know!
I still spend a considerable time every week searching high and low for the best app-UX around, and in the past years I have increasingly been searching for the “one app to rule them all” aka the one that will allow me to keep my focus and digit in ONE app only. The all-one-in app that does everything for me without me having to leave that app, so far I have not found THE one. Of course this is what we in Gartner call the move towards the post app era, a subject that me and fellow colleagues Jason Wong and Adrian Leow have written about for a couple of years.

Of course not everyone is as interested in apps as I am.. which lead me to set out to get a better understanding of consumer app behaviors and usage and for the 3rd year running we have commissioned a multi-country consumer study in the U.S., the U.K. and China from 26 August 2016 through 13 October 2016. The survey also sought to explore how these trends are evolving, and to compare and contrast country, gender and age-group differences. The 2016 Mobile Apps Study was conducted online among 3,021 respondents in the U.S. (n = 1,000), the U.K. (n = 1,000) and China (n = 1,021).

So what did we find!? 

The social media app category, with Facebook and Twitter, is the most popular mobile app category for the third year running; however, we are seeing a slight drop between 2015 and 2016. In 2015, 85% said they used social media apps, and in 2016, 83% did.

Messaging apps, such as WeChat, WhatsApp and Viber, however, are gaining from year over year, with 71% of respondents using them on a regular basis compared with 68% in 2015. Users are moving their attention more toward messaging apps that are increasingly becoming platforms for communications, social, commerce and much more. What is striking with both social media and messaging apps is the frequency with which they use apps; 85% (social media) and 72% (messaging) use these apps at least once per day.

The use of personal assistants, such as Siri and Google Now, has grown from 31% to 35% from 2015 to 2016. Interestingly, 45% of our respondents in the U.S. say they use them regularly, dropping to 32% in the U.K.

Across all mobile apps categories, our data shows that it is the younger millennials, 18 through 24 years old, who are the most veracious mobile app users, with 93% of them using social media on a regular basis.

So are mobile apps uber-cool still? Well, they are part of our every day life, we could probably live without them (at a stretch!) but that said there are more and more of us looking for the app that will rule them all…
Please tune in next week for more app-ilicious insights into the wonderful world of mobile apps. In the meantime – check out the full report,

User Survey Analysis: Mobile Apps, U.S., U.K. and China, 2016

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Jessica Ekholm
Research Director
17 years at Gartner
19 years IT Industry

Jessica Ekholm works as a Research Director and leads the Key Initiative "Enhance the Technology and Service Provider Customer Experience." She focuses on personal digital services, connected home, mobile apps and disruptive players in the market. She works closely with service providers, device and network infrastructure providers, and app ecosystem players. Read Full Bio

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