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Study: Consumers Like Pre-loaded Apps

Wed, 09/22/2010 - 8:21am
Andrew Berg

Consumers actually like all those pre-loaded apps on their new smartphones, according to new research from iGR. A poll of 2,000 cell phone users found that pre-loaded apps were one of the best ways for consumers to find new apps and that any given consumer was about 50 percent less likely to find additional new services and apps if their phone didn't come with pre-loaded apps.

The results of the survey may come as a surprise to many who have posited that pre-loaded apps and carrier/OEM restrictions are ruining the goal of true "openness" put forth by Google's Android OS and Nokia's Symbian platform.

The survey found that the carriers and OEMs actually do an excellent job of pre-loading the best apps available for their particular tasks. Just 2 percent of respondents said they found better versions of the pre-loaded apps on the app stores. Messaging, phone control, social media, games and GPS apps are among the most used pre-loaded apps.

When consumers didn't use the pre-loaded apps on their phone, over half the time it was because they were pay-to-use apps. Fully 54.6 percent of users said that paid apps were most often ignored when they cost money to use. Alternately, when asked why they use a pre-loaded app, 51.2 percent of respondents said that they use it because they "like the pre-loaded/pre-installed app."

Carriers are in perhaps the best position to introduce consumers to new apps. Feature phone users were just as likely to use pre-loaded apps as were smartphone users, with half of consumers discovering new apps through the ones pre-loaded on their handset. Only 26 percent discovered new apps through the apps stores, giving the carriers double the discoverability via pre-loaded apps versus the storefront.

When asked what was important to a consumer when they selected their new phone, at least some aspect of apps figured heavily into their decision. While 57 percent said that apps did not figure into their decision at all, fully 43 percent said that different app-related features did. In fact, 22.3 percent of respondents said that the "kind, or range, of apps that came pre-loaded on the phone" figured heavily in their decision to buy a particular device.

The survey went so far as to ask what percentage of users had jailbroken their devices so as to download any apps they wanted. Only 5 percent of respondents had done so.

iGR concludes that not only do consumers like pre-loaded apps, but there is a significant potential negative revenue impact to operators that chose not to pre-install or pre-load valuable applications and services. A popular/useful application can potentially generate 9.4 times the revenue for the operator when pre-loaded on the handset as opposed to simply being offered in an app store.

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