Games, News, Maps, Social and Music are the Most Downloaded Mobile App Types: Nielsen

What Types of Apps are People Downloading?

The surveying company Nielsen recently posted some mobile app figures from its report, the App Playbook, whose data is based on a survey of 4,200 people who downloaded a mobile phone application in the past 30 days. Here’s their chart showing the downloaded apps by category:

Graph: Categories of Applications Used in the Past 30 Days

I reworked the chart to list the categories from least to most downloaded (I also gave it a more accurate title). You can click the revised chart below to see it at full size:

Graph: Phone Apps Downloaded in the Past 30 Days

As you can see, the top 5 mobile app categories are (from most to least downloaded):

  1. Games
  2. News/Weather
  3. Maps/Navigation/Search
  4. Social Networking
  5. Music

These top categories, once boiled down to their essence, would seem to indicate that mobile app users want to:

  • Be entertained
  • Find out what’s happening
  • Know where things are

Perhaps it’s time to come up with an app that combines all three of these. I’m leaving that as an exercise for the reader.

Smartphone Penetration

Graph: 1 in 5 wireless subscribers

In the fourth quarter of 2009, 21% of American wireless subscribers – a sliver over 1 in 5 – had a smartphone. That means that there are still 4 our of 5 U.S. wireless subscribers who have yet to make a smartphone purchase.

This figure is up from 19% in the previous quarter and a significant jump up from 14% at the end of 2008. I don’t know whether the Canadian figures are similar; while we’re similar to the U.S. culturally, they get much better deals from their mobile companies, which may affect usage patterns.

Who’s Downloaded Apps, and How Many?

Graph: 1 in 6 downloads

According to Nielsen’s survey, 14% of American wireless subscribers – a shade under 1 in 6 – downloaded a mobile app in the last 30 days.

Smartphone users had an average of 22 installed apps, while feature phone users had 10. Here’s the count of installed apps for smartphones broken down by OS:

Graph: Number of Installed Apps (iPhone 37, Android 22, Palm 24, Windows Mobile 13, BlackBerry 10)

There are more figures in the NielsenWire article covering mobile app use – be sure to read it!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


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For your enjoyment and enlightenment, I present 4 articles featuring lists…

Soma’s Key Software Development Trends

S. Somasegar

S. “Soma” Somasegar, Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s Developer Division, writes about what he sees as emerging trends in the world of software development.  He says it’s not a comprehensive list of all trends in the world of building software, but trends where Microsoft is doing some serious investing of time, energy and Dark-Side-of-the-Force midichlorians. You’ll have to read the article for a more fully fleshed-out explanation of each trend, which I’ve listed below:

  • Cloud Computing: Or as I like to call it, “Servers as a Service”.
  • The Web as a Platform: Contrary to what you might have heard, The Empire’s pretty big on the web, on both the server side (from Azure to IIS to SharePoint to ASP.NET/ASP.NET MVC) to the client side (HTML, JavaScript/jQuery and Silverlight).
  • Parallel Computing: I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve ruined with threads. I eventually get them right, but wow, can they be a lot of work. .NET 4.0 introduces a number of parallel programming features that make taking advantage of the multicore power in even the cheapest of today’s machines much easier.
  • Proliferation of Devices: “Computer” no longer refers to just the machine on your desktop or in your lap and “user interface” is no longer limited to just “keyboard, mouse and monitor”.
  • Agile Development Process: The upcoming Visual Studio 2010 provides lots of support for agile processes. Hopefully, we’ll see third parties write plug-ins to support even more!
  • Distributed Development: I don’t just talk about geographically-spread work, I live it! I telecommute from the home office, HacklabTO or cafes, and my co-workers in Microsoft Canada’s Technical Evangelism Team pipe in from Mississauga, Ottawa and Calgary.

My first response to the list was “Hey, Soma, where’s mobile?”, but I choose to group it in with “Proliferation of Devices”.

Five Pervasive Myths About Older Software Developers

1960s computer programmers

I’m 42 years old. In most white-collar work, I would be seen as “entering my prime”. In the software world, many employers would advise me to “stop buying green bananas” (think about it for a moment if you don’t get the joke). Age discrimination is an unfortunate fact of life in our industry, which prizes youth and particularly its willingness to work long hours for little pay.

In his blog, Lessons of Failure, Dave Rodenbaugh debunks five myths about “older” software developers:

  • Myth: Older software developers are more expensive than younger ones, making younger developers more desirable.
    • Reality: Younger means cheaper, but a team of nothing but young’uns without much experience will cost you in the long run. Hiring experienced people is like getting insurance against some of the classic mistakes in project management and software development that you only truly learn in the School of Hard Knocks.
  • Myth: Older software developers are less flexible and less capable of learning new technologies because of their legacy knowledge.
    • Reality: It’s experience that makes software developers more capable of migrating to new technologies, frameworks and systems more quickly and in greater depth.
  • Myth: Older software developers are less able to perform the arduous tasks of software development (read:  work long, painful hours) because of family commitments and other attachments that younger workers don’t have.
    • Reality: They’ve learned the hard way that there’s a point of diminishing returns with long hours. I know I did.
  • Myth: Older software developers are less mentally agile than younger ones.
    • Reality: Yes, aging slows down the brain a little, but thinking faster isn’t always better. There’s also thinking wisely and using good judgment. To quote the old adage: “Good judgment comes from experience, experience from bad judgment.”
  • Myth: Older software developers are more jaded and cynical and therefore, less desirable in the workplace than younger ones.  Younger developers are more enthusiastic than older ones.
    • Reality: Passion is passion. If you have it for your job at 40, you probably really love that field. I know I do. [Joey’s note: Besides, have you met members of Generation Y? For a crowd so young, they’re an incredibly cynical and jaded bunch. I blame Gossip Girl.]

Why Matt Hidinger Loves ASP.NET MVC

Matt Hidinger I’m going to express a personal preference: I’d much rather build web apps with ASP.NET MVC than with Web forms. That’s the PHP-and-Smarty/Ruby on Rails developer in me talking. Matt Hidinger documents a “Web Forms vs. ASP.NET MVC” debate he had on IRC and lists these major points:

  • Fallacy: Web forms does everything I need it to.
    • Matt’s response: “getting something done, and getting something done in a testable, maintainable, long-term way, are entirely different”
  • Fallacy: MVC is just a bunch of <%= HtmlHelpers %>.
    • Matt’s response: “HtmlHelpers are 4% of the ASP.NET MVC platform. That’s like saying <asp:Textbox> is all of web forms” – he also points to an article titled Controls Do Not Make You More Productive.
  • Fallacy: Web forms is easier.
    • Matt’s response: “developers every day struggle with dynamic controls and databinding in even slightly-complex real-world scenarios. Mindlessly tweaking code and refreshing the page to see what ASP.NET will render.”

Matt also lists a series of facts, which I agree with:

  • Web forms is black magic
  • MVC enables robust Ajax support
  • MVC is closer to the metal
  • Data binding is confusing, full of indirection and runtime logic
  • MVC lends itself to good design
  • Web forms is miserable without JavaScript
  • MVC is testable
  • MVC allows multiple <form> tags

“I like coding. I hate shipping software.”

Microsoft "Ship-It" award for Sriram Krishnan, who shipped Visual Studio 2005 and .NET 2.0

Trey Stout says that shipping has all the worst elements of development, namely:

  • translating
  • documenting
  • testing
  • DLL hell
  • install scripts
  • customers
  • marketing

Ah, DLL hell, I remember you well. Once, a major customer’s office lost all reporting functionality from software I developed because they got a new printer, whose “install me first” CD added some DLLs which clobbered the ones from my app’s installation.

Trey also says that coding has all the best elements of development:

  • Talking with other developers
  • white boards
  • new tech
  • compilers
  • crazy features
  • jokes in comments
  • feelings of accomplishment.
  • satisfying diff emails

What’s the solution? In my case, it’s to go into developer evangelism. You get to code, and you don’t have to ship (don’t get me wrong – shipping has many rewards). Of course, if you want my job, you will have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


The “Ignite Your Career” Webcasts Start Tomorrow!


What is Ignite Your Career?

Ignite Your Career is Microsoft Canada’s webcast series on making the most out of your high-tech career. Hosted by my co-worker Rick Claus (Senior IT Pro Advisor) and Shane Schick (Editor-in-Chief of IT World Canada), it’s a series who goal is to provide you with information to help you make the best decisions for your high-tech career and answers to your questions. For the next four Thursdays starting tomorrow, Rick and Shane will take to seasoned pros from the IT industry about various topics, ranging from where the industry seems to be heading to maintaining your skills portfolio to “marketing yourself” to becoming a better leader.  

You could call Ignite Your Career “platform-neutral”, as the topics covered apply to all developers and IT pros, whether or not they work with Microsoft tools and technologies. If you have a career as a developer or an IT pro, or a mix of the two, or if you manage developers and IT pros, this webcast is for you!

What’s the First Webcast About?

Tomorrow’s webcast, the first in the series, is titled Industry Insights and Trends. Here’s the abstract:

In this webcast, we are revisiting one of the most popular topics we’ve had on the ongoing Ignite Your Career webcast series to kick of this season. Industry Insights and Trends. The nature of Technology is one of continual change; a fact of life for professionals in the ICT Industry. As a result, you need to be on top of what is happening in the industry in order to position yourself and your organization to benefit from these trends. This panel discussion will arm you with the information you need from experts in the ICT industry in order to stay on top of your game.

The panel for this webcast will consist of Richard Campbell (host of .NET Rocks!), Jay Payette, Lorie Baddock and Lee Jacobs.

For this webcast, we’re offering a choice of time slots:

  • Session 1: Thursday, September 10, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Eastern (9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Pacific) [register]
  • Session 2: Thursday, September 10, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Eastern (12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Pacific) [register]

For more details or to register, see the Ignite Your Career site.


Tuesday’s “Ignite Your Career”: Industry Insights and Trends

ignition_switch As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ignite Your Career is Microsoft’s webcast series on career, skills and personal development. Having a plan and “sharpening your saw” are two of your three best hedges in these uncertain economic times, and they’re what Ignite Your Career is all about.

(In case you were wondering, the third hedge is to have a solid network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances in your areas of interest. That’s what gatherings like EnergizeIT, DemoCamp and Coffee and Code are for.)

Ignite Your Career is about your career and “skills portfolio”, so the topics covered in our webcasts aren’t Microsoft-specific. No matter what platform(s) you work on, no matter if you’re a developer, sysadmin, administrator or manager, if you work in technology, you’ll find value in Ignite Your Career. As for Microsoft, we’re part of the tech ecosystem, and an ecosystem with vibrant, thriving techies is a healthy one, regardless of the tech they choose.

The first Ignite Your Career webcast takes place this Tuesday, March 3rd, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Eastern and the topic will be Industry Insights and Trends. Here’s the abstract:

The nature of technology is one of continual change; a fact of life for professionals in the ICT industry. As a result, you need to be on top of what is happening in the industry in order to position yourself and your organization to benefit from these trends. This panel discussion will arm you with the information you need from experts in the ICT industry in order to stay on top of your game.

Here are the speakers:

joel_semeniuk Joel Semeniuk
Joel Semeniuk is a founder of Imaginet, a Canada-based Microsoft Gold Partner. He is also a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP in Team System, and INETA speaker, and has a degree in Computer Science.
jeff_kempiners Jeff Kempiners
Jeff Kempiners is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Avanade Canada. As CTO, Jeff is responsible for the strategic direction and adoption of the Avanade Solutions Portfolio within Avanade Canada. A seasoned leader, Jeff has more than 12 years of experience in IT management and consulting.

Jay Payette
Jay Payette has been consulting public and private organizations in the field of technology for over 5 years. He currently works for the Ottawa office of Accenture in the Systems Integration and Technology practice.


All Ignite Your Career webcasts are absolutely free of charge. You’ll need a Windows Live ID (also free; if you have MSN Hotmail, MSN Messenger or Passport, you already have a Windows Live ID) to sign up to see the webcast.

Some links you might find useful: