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Apps More Prevalent Than Ever, Influence Shopping Habits

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Half of adult cell phone users now have apps on their phones, according to a recent survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

This accounts for the share of adults who’ve purchased phones pre-loaded with apps, up from 38 percent in May 2010 to 43 percent in August 2011, as well as cell phone users who’ve downloaded them—up from 22 percent in September 2009 to 38 percent in August 2011. Tablets are also playing a role in apps’ popularity. Of the 10 percent of who report owning a tablet computer like the iPad, 75 percent report having downloaded apps.

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“App downloading on cell phones remains concentrated among young adults, those with higher incomes and education levels, and those living in urban and suburban areas,” Pew reports. While cell phone app downloaders tend slightly more often to be male, the opposite holds true for for tablets, with women comprise the slim majority of downloaders. A third of cell phone app owners use six or more of them weekly; among tablet owners the number is 39%.

Increased app numbers speak to the broader trend of people going mobile, according to Pew. Case in point: in May 2010, only three percent of the adult population owned tablets. Likewise, the rate of laptop ownership has edged out that of desktop ownership for the first time.

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About 46 percent of app owners have downloaded shopping and purchase-related apps. These are downloaded by men more often than women, by African-Americans more often than white counterparts, and by downloaders in higher-income categories, according to Pew. (The most commonly downloaded apps—acquired by 74 percent of cell phone app users—are those that provide news, sports, weather and stocks updates.)

In related news, the retail marketing consultants Shopper Sciences reports that “mobile influence” on shopping behavior is up more than 300 percent from last year. “Retail apps that encourage comparison pricing, bring up coupons, check inventory and enable digital payments are increasingly more commonplace and in fact are expected by those who keep up with the latest electronic trends,” the company reports.

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Image: Daniel Johnson, Jr., via Flickr.com

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