App Usage Has Stalled As Smartphone Users Hit Burnout

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Are we hitting app overload?

Jenna Wortham at the New York Times thinks so. With 259 apps installed on her iPhone, she estimates that she regularly uses 16 of them.

As a tech reporter, she's something of an outlier. But Nielsen reported in May that the number of apps installed per smartphone had jumped sharply from 32 apps per phone in 2011 to 41 in 2012. So Wortham, while an extreme case, is clearly on trend.

People download a lot of apps, but they abandon 95 percent of them, according to a study by Nuance.

The result: They keep using the same apps—Nielsen says Facebook, YouTube, Google Play, Google Search, and Gmail were the top five apps in both 2011 and 2012.

And they're not spending markedly more time in apps: 39 minutes a day in 2012 versus 37 minutes in 2011.

Apple has 775,000 apps in the App Store, and Google Play is catching up quickly. But vanishingly few of those apps will capture any meaningful share of consumer attention.



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