Android users likely to be app freeloaders: survey

While everybody loves getting things for free, it seems Android users love getting free things more than anyone.

A new survey released today by Strategy Analytics found that 89 per cent of mobile applications downloaded by U.S. Android users and 92 per cent of apps downloaded by Android users in Western Europe were free.

By contrast, free apps accounted for just 73 per cent of apps downloaded by iPhone users in the U.S. and 72 per cent of apps downloaded by iPhone users in Western Europe. Meanwhile BlackBerry users on both sides of the Atlantic reported that 80 per cent of the apps they downloaded onto their devices were free.

So what’s to account for so many Android users acting as mobile app freeloaders?

Strategy Analytics analyst Chris Dodge says that it mostly comes down to the greater availability of free applications on the Android Market compared with the Apple App Store of the BlackBerry App World. Dodge also speculates that Apple users are used to paying higher overall prices for their mobile devices than Android users and are thus more willing to spend money on mobile applications.

“There’s more access to free apps and I think most people would agree with the concept of, ‘Why should I pay for something if I can get it for free?'” he says.

Interestingly, having greater access to more free apps doesn’t mean that Android users download more overall apps onto their devices than iPhone users. Strategy Analytics found that U.S. Android users downloaded an average of 31.9 apps onto their phones while EU Android users downloaded an average of 38 apps. U.S. iPhone users, by contrast, downloaded an average of 48.4 apps on their phones while EU iPhone users downloaded a whopping 64.4 apps on average to their smartphones.

The Strategy Analytics survey adds some more context to the recent report from IHS showing that both Apple’s App Store and RIM’s BlackBerry World generated more revenue than Google’s Android Market, despite the fact that the Android Market has significantly more applications available than BlackBerry. In 2011, the App Store generated $1.78 billion in revenue, dwarfing the $165 million in revenue generated by the BlackBerry App World and the $102 million in revenue generated by the Android Market.

Strategy Analytics conducted its study by surveying 981 smartphone users in the U.S. and 1,497 smartphone users throughout Western Europe.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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