There is no shortage of articles and alerts filled with this week’s research data about smartphones.
This stuff makes us “smarter,” but also comes off a lot like the contradictory nutrition information we’re pummeled by. One week, coffee is good for you; the next week, it causes strokes. (“I’ll have a grande latte with light whip.”)
The newest data dump from Pew tells us that only about a third of American adults have apps on their cell phones. And of these, only about two-thirds actually use them.
So, maybe we should give pause on this whole apps thing, given this lower-than-someone-thought usage.
Or maybe we should realize that we often don't know a revolution is taking place when we’re in the middle of it. In this case, these numbers for apps are as low as they're ever going to be. And they’re impressive when you consider that Apple’s App Store is 26 months old. (I know – it seems like apps have been around for a decade, but the reality is that they’re still in their “terrible twos.”)
Apps have totally changed the game for mobile phone manufacturers. Just ask companies like Nokia and Palm that have been painfully slow to figure it out. Or RIM who somehow assumed that a mediocre app platform could be covered up by lots of suits checking their email.
The biggest winners in the app sweepstakes (aside from Steve Jobs, of course) are Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Westergren.
Mobile has been the accelerant that has helped Facebook blow past the 500 million user milestone. The Facebook app for iPhone now sits at 100 million active users a month.
It’s not enough to update our lives and post our family reunions from our laptops and desktops. We now have to catalogue our meals, our gardens, and our new shoe purchases with the immediacy that real-time mobile Facebook updates brings.
Tim Westergren and Pandora have been major beneficiaries, too, as that pure-play Internet music service has rocketed to the top of the heap for streaming radio. Recent Nielsen data on the three biggest app platforms confirm it.
So, how do we put this in perspective? And how does broadcast radio fit into this scheme?
That topic is covered in our “Goin’ Mobile” study that will be presented for the first time at “The Radio Show” in D.C. on Thursday, September 30th. Thanks to the vision of Arbitron and their research guru, Dr. Ed Cohen, radio will be treated to a unique view of the mobile phenomenon. Aside from bringing perspective to the mobile revolution, we’ll talk about the ways in which radio can – and must – participate in this platform.
Meantime, it’s time to send out a tweet about “Goin’ Mobile.”