A recent global study from Nokia showed that 58 per cent of smartphone users in India believe that applications, aka 'apps', truly benefit their lives. While 31 per cent respondents relied on apps at home, 24 per cent relied on them while travelling, and 10 per cent used them at work.
Nokia, along with Professor Trevor Pinch, Cornell University's leading sociologist and professor of science and technology studies, surveyed 5,231 smartphone users in 10 countries, namely India, Singapore, China, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the USA. The study was aimed at gathering insights about the smartphone behaviour of consumers in these countries.
The research showed that more than the number of mobile apps, it was the quality and relevance that drove apps consumption among users. More than 70 per cent of users surveyed had up to 30 apps on their smartphones, with 20 per cent saying that they deleted all similar apps from their handset, if they heard about a better one.
"Apps are becoming intrinsic to the way we live," says Pinch. "Our relationship with them has turned from occasional use into a real dependency. It is because of this that our personal app 'collections' represent our unique needs, personality and interests. We can learn much about a person's behaviour via a mix of their choice of apps, personality variables, use variables and competence variables," he says.
It is not only personality traits that are revealed through the choice of apps, but also the characteristics of national cultures. For example, Brazilians showed their appreciation for a party with 42 per cent downloading music-related apps, including ringtones, track recognition, and music magazines. Germans found functional apps, such as alarm clocks and flashlights (29 per cent) the most appealing, and Indians preferred business-focussed apps such as e-mail and expense managers.
The study also revealed that having apps is not synonymous with using them. Thirty per cent of all smartphone users claimed to use most of the apps on their phones, but not all. The heaviest users were in India, where 14 per cent claimed to use all of the apps on their phone, while the British seemed to use the fewest apps, with 23 per cent admitting to hardly ever using any.
Among the key facts that emerged from the Indian market was that 77 per cent of respondents in India have up to 30 apps on their smartphones, with men more likely to download apps (93 per cent) vis-à-vis women (87 per cent).
The most popular apps that are downloaded in India are: music (41 per cent), social networking (41 per cent), business (27 per cent), photo/ personalisation (22 per cent) and games (22 per cent). The more popular apps people use are: social networking (40 per cent), music (36 per cent), business (28 per cent), utilities (21 per cent) and games (21 per cent).
The study also revealed that women (43 per cent) are more into social networking than men (38 per cent). Moreover, a majority of people in the 18-24 years age-group download and use social networking apps.
Forty-eight per cent of the Indian sample base thinks it's important to have the most recent technology and applications, while 34 per cent feel they need to be able to download the latest music releases.
Most smartphone users frequently rely on apps throughout the day (48 per cent), while 22 per cent log on and use them two or three times a week. Also, 31 per cent of people use their apps at home, whereas 29 per cent use them while commuting to and from work.
"What is really interesting about this data is that we are seeing app habits in new ways," says Pinch. "Two-fifths (43 per cent) of those questioned rely on their apps many times throughout the day, but in different contexts. The beauty of mobile devices is that they can be used with such versatility. For example, the business person can come home and hand their phone over to their kids to play games on."
George Linardos, vice-president of media, Nokia says, "Apps are the way in which we bring our devices to life and empower them to be like our own personal magic wands. Just like an old music collection, our apps -- and the ways in which we use them -- can reveal the heart and soul of who we truly are. They tell our stories."
Other findings of the research showed that South Africans are the most connected, with 45 per cent using social networking apps, compared to 40 per cent each in Brazil and India. Singaporeans are at the top of the scoreboard when it comes to mobile gaming, with 49 per cent using or downloading games.
Also, compared to other nationalities, the Chinese (30 per cent) like to keep their fingers on the pulse of news and information. Almost a third (28 per cent) of the Italians would opt for a travel app, rather than carry a cumbersome guidebook when heading abroad.
Overall, games (38 per cent), social networking (35 per cent) and music (29 per cent) are the most downloaded apps, while social networking (31 per cent), games (29 per cent) and utilities (25 per cent) are the most used.