updated 10:30 am EDT, Thu August 18, 2011
Nielsen shows narrow app attention on Android
Despite having a large app store, much of Android's usage time is spent with just 10 apps, Nielsen discovered Thursday. About 43 percent of Android app use is focused on the top 10. The top 50 apps account for 61 percent of time, leaving nearly all of the 250,000-plus Android Market apps to contend for the remaining 39 percent.
Google's preference for the web also didn't matter as much. Apps account for about 67 percent of the roughly 56 minutes Android users spend with data on their phones, with the web consuming the rest.
Researchers had no immediate explanation for the narrow scope of Android use. Most criticism of the platform's app support, however, has focused on poor app discovery. Until recently, Google's ranking system was structured such that apps only slowly rotated out of the charts, leaving titles in similar positions for months at a time. Developers have also mentioned a low quality threshhold where many Android apps are sub-par. The Market redesign fixes some of this by highlighting apps independently of their status and counting the top recent and trending apps.
iOS has its share of apps with near-permanent fixtures in top demand, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Angry Birds. Even so, app usage is still believed to have a wider spread than just the top 10 to 50 titles. The App Store's chart system has faster rotation and is joined by a layout that focuses much more on finding new titles. Apple's stronger emphasis on games also makes it likely that users have more than 10 apps they use frequently.