Results of a recent study released by Nielsen Smartphone Analytics shows that Android smartphone users love their apps. The app love is not surprising, especially when you consider the huge catalog of apps in the Android Market. What is surprising, however, is the fact that Android owners dedicate most of their time to a select group of apps, leaving the majority of app developers wondering what they have to do to get some attention.
Nielsen Smartphone Analytics collected its data during June of this year by installing meters on thousands of smartphones running on the Android operating system. The meters tracked data concerning usage on the phones to give Nielsen researches further insight into how they are actually used. The study found that the average Android user in the United States interacts with the web and uses apps for approximately 56 minutes per day. Of the 56 minutes, 67 percent involves app usage, with the remaining third going to the web in the form of browsing and more.
A closer look into the app usage shows that only a very small portion of the Android Market’s catalog of over 250,000 apps is occupying users’ time. The 10 most popular Android apps account for 43 percent of app usage. When you bump the analysis to include the top 50 Android apps, they account for 61 percent of overall usage. In other words, the remaining 39 percent is left for the other 249,950-plus apps to fight over.
It’s rather interesting that Nielsen did not release an actual listing of the top Android apps, but the company did say it plans to disclose the information during an upcoming webinar. A little Google research into the topic shows that the Android Market’s top ten app list consists of YouTube, Facebook, Skype, Google Maps, Twitter, Adobe Reader/Flash, and Barcode Scanner. One thing that definitely helps some of the top apps achieve such popularity is the fact a few come pre-installed on Android devices. Their free status is helpful as well. The top ten also consists of apps that perform basic, everyday functions that users want access to, such as communication and social networking. When you think of a site like Facebook or a service like Skype, it’s not hard to figure out why people would spend so much time on them.
Although Nielsen’s numbers show dominance by a small sector of the Android app world, the remaining market share is certainly worth fighting over. Developers can certainly make a name for themselves by creating apps that are free or at least very affordable, plus offer a unique way to deliver functionality for everyday tasks.
When Hewlett-Packard announced that it would stop the production of various webOS-based devices such as the TouchPad tablet and smartphones in the form of the Veer and Pre 3, many wondered what it meant for the future of the webOS platform itself. HP purchased the mobile operating system from Palm for $1.2 billion last year, so it makes sense that the company’s executives stated a commitment to further development of the platform. Stephen DeWitt, head of HP’s webOS division, ensured that webOS will continue to exist as far as PCs are concerned, and will also remain as the platform of choice for printers and other appliances. In an interview with Engadget, he said: “We made the decision to focus on the platform. We could bring webOS to the market and expand the ecosystem...We can look at licensing; we can look at OEM and ODM-type relationships.”
Although a commitment does exist, there is still plenty of speculation of what is in store for webOS in the future. To help clear things up a bit, a recent PCWorld article simplified the speculation to give a clearer glimpse into what developers and HP followers can look forward to from webOS.
In terms of continued development of webOS in the near future, things appear to be looking up. DeWitt confirmed HP’s commitment to the evolution, updating, and support of webOS in a recent statement to Bloomberg. Speaking of updating, DeWitt also confirmed that updates for HP’s Veer and TouchPad devices would continue. Whether or not that lasts well into the future remains to be seen.
HP App Catalog’s Prospects
HP’s interest in keeping app developers interested in webOS is still alive and well, at least if you take what Kerris recently wrote on the HP webOS Developer Blog to heart. He noted: “We will continue to support, innovate, and develop the webOS App Catalog. Our intent is to enhance our merchandising and presentation of your great products and to continue to build our webOS app ecosystem.”
While such a statement is promising, attracting developer attention to a platform lacking an upcoming product line is no easy task. It becomes infinitely more difficult with competitors like Microsoft waiting in the wings. The software giant knows it has a ripe opportunity to snatch up talented webOS developers, and it has begun doing its best to bring them over to Windows Phone 7’s side. In a recent posting on Twitter, Brandon Watson, Microsoft’s director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, offered webOS developers with published apps various incentives to develop for Microsoft’s mobile platform, including free development phones. So far, the offer seems to be working, as it has piqued the interest of many webOS developers.
For the time being, you can expect to see continued webOS development for PCs and printers, as HP proclaimed earlier this year that it would attempt to enhance Windows via webOS. The enhancement would use the platform as a synchronization avenue between HP PCs and mobile webOS devices.
There also appears to be a chance that HP could expand webOS’ reach into other devices besides phones, printers, and tablets. DeWitt hinted at this when he told Bloomberg, “There are going to be appliances of so many different sizes and shapes in the future that are going to require a human interface for data.” In order to convert the expansion hopes into reality, HP is seeking solid webOS hardware partners. “HP webOS is an awesome software platform and now we can explore the best hardware partner for it,” wrote HP’s VP of worldwide developer relations for webOS Richard Kerris, on Twitter.