New Report Shows iOS Users Spend Money, Like to Check Weather

A plethora of recent reports have explored the current state of the smartphone market both in the United States and globally but most focus only on overall market share or shipments. A new report (PDF) from the Online Publishers Association (OPA) looks less at sales numbers and more at the way that smartphone owners are actually using their devices.

The August report examines data from surveys conducted in March and, while the overall content is focused on advertising and user demographics, which are aimed at the web publishers that the OPA represents, the report does reveal some interesting statistics about mobile device users in the United States.

The vast majority, 93 percent, of smartphone owners use their device to “access content / information.” It’s a high percentage, of course, but we worry about the 7 percent of smartphone owners who paid all that money and aren’t accessing anything on their phones.

OPA Smartphone Access ContentQuestion: “Which of the following things do you do at least one a week on your mobile phone?” (via OPA August 2012 Report).

A smaller percentage, 59 percent, browse the Web, while 58 percent check email, a surprisingly small amount. Music listening, social networking, games, and apps round out the top responses, while actually buying things from the phone and reading books both come in at 14 percent.

Breaking “access content / information” down into subcategories, a portrait of U.S. smartphone users begins to appear.

OPA Smartphone ContentQuestion: “Which of the following things do you do at least once per week on your mobile phone?” (via OPA August 2012 Report).

Checking the weather is the number one response, with 47 percent of users wanting to know if they should pack an umbrella. Of the remaining top responses, video takes a distant second, at 31 percent, followed by local news (29 percent), national news (24 percent), sports info (21 percent), entertainment content, which we assume is akin to celebrity news and gossip (20 percent), and financial information (18 percent).

Of importance to Apple’s Newsstand initiative, reading newspaper and magazine content scored only 15 and 10 percent, respectively.

Looking at video content, it’s no surprise that “short-form” options are the most popular, at 68 percent. While companies like Apple have made watching full-length content as pleasurable as possible, most users don’t voluntarily choose to enjoy movies and television shows on their phones if the option to watch them on a larger screen is available. Mobile devices are great for “on the go” consumption, when only a few minutes here and there are available.

OPA Smartphone ContentQuestion: “Which of the following types of video do you like to watch regularly on your mobile phone?” (via OPA August 2012 Report).

Apple with its App Store has arguably created the best marketplace for selling and buying paid mobile apps, but the number paid apps sold across all smartphone platforms remains fairly low. Only 14 percent of apps downloaded in the last 12 months were paid.

OPA Paid vs Free AppsQuestion: “What percentage of apps that you downloaded on your mobile phone in the last 12 months were free apps versus paid apps?” (via OPA August 2012 Report).

Break that down by platform, however, and it’s clear to see that Android is skewing the numbers, with 66 percent of Android owners spending nothing on apps in the past 12 months, compared to 30 percent of iOS owners. Further, among those that did spend money on apps, iOS users spent more money than their Android counterparts.

OPA Android vs iOS Paid Apps

Question: “About how much did you spend in total for apps on your mobile phone in the last 12 months?” (via OPA August 2012 Report).

The report goes in to many other categories, mostly related to online advertising and mobile ads (the OPA represents web publishers who want to know how to market their content, after all), so if you’re interested in that angle, be sure to check out the full report.