Most reviewers recommend that smartphone shoppers peruse a phone’s apps before buying. After all, you’re not just buying a device -- you’re buying into an app ecosystem.
If you’re not sold on that philosophy, you might want to reconsider. Research firm Nielsen just released the mother-load of data which shows just how critical apps are. Their infographic illustrates app usage in 2011 vs 2012 in the U.S.
The impressive results are mostly driven by Android and iOS users. Nielsen has determined that these two operating systems “account for 88% of those who have downloaded an app in the past 30 days.” Users spent 88% more time in apps than in the browser, up from 73% in 2011, Nielsen says. The average number of apps on each device grew to 41 from 32.
It’s no wonder that up-and-coming operating systems are going to extremes to court developers to write apps. Microsoft, Research in Motion and Google are handing out free hardware and cash to try motive developers to write for their OS app store.
“By most measures, it has been the year of the App once again,” Nielsen says.
But it’s possible that when Nielsen publishes data next year, Facebook might have shaken things up. Last week Facebook launched an app store. It showcases apps that run on Android, iOS and your web browser -- aka Web apps. Right now many of them probably won’t wow you. But the combination of fast processors and powerful Web browsers are opening doors to make applications that could make Web apps feel as peppy and feature packed as traditional apps.
If you poke around the web, you’ll see a lot of big names showcasing exciting apps the run in Web browsers. You'll also see software and hardware makers designing code and silicon built to optimize web app performance. Perhaps we’re getting closer and closer to Nielsen dubbing a “year of the web app.”