Everyone is downloading apps, but they aren’t searching

Smartphones – not just iPhones – are encouraging users to download apps if new figures from Nielsen are to be believed, however none of them appear to be using search to find them.

A new Nielsen survey shows that as of June 2010, 59% of smartphone owners and nearly 9% of feature phone owners report having downloaded a mobile app in the last 30 days.

According to Nielsen one of the main challenges facing apps publishers is making sure consumers “discover” their apps. According to Nielsen’s survey, searching application stores on their phones is the preferred way for discovering new apps for users of feature phones and smartphones alike (57% and 40%, respectively). The next most popular “preferred” form of app discovery is through the recommendation of a family member or friend. However, smartphone apps users are more likely than feature phone users to seek out other ways of discovering new mobile apps.

The intriguing thing here is that search – eg Google, Yahoo etc – isn’t present at all in the methods users use to find apps, other than search on the app store itself. We think that there is going to be a backlash soon as users find that they just aren’t having a great deal of success in finding apps via the app stores own search, and they will naturally turn back to the methods they’re familiar with eg good old search. We gave up on using iTunes app store search about six months ago as it’s just so hard to find what you want.

More details of the survey can be found in the The State of Mobile Apps survey, which features select highlights from the report and is based on an August 2010 survey of more than 4,000 mobile subscribers who had reported downloading a mobile app in the previous 30 days.

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