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Apps overtaking music on iTunes

business Updated: Aug 07, 2013 11:40 IST

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According to the latest NPD figures, in the US at least, downloading apps is catching up with listening to music as iTunes users' number one activity

The research firm shows that since 2010, the percentage of iTunes users that listen to music via the software is starting to fall -- from 54 % to today's 41 percent, although purchasing individual songs (29% of US users) and whole albums (9%) remains pretty much unchanged over the same period.

However, since 2010 there has been a boom in apps, particularly free titles -- 35 percent of users claim to download free apps from the site, up from 24 percent in 2010, while 18 percent also say that they purchase apps too (12% in 2010).

NPD's research says that there are currently 67 million acitive iTunes users in the US, up from 50 million three years ago and that the average iPhone or iPad user now has 35 free apps on his or her device -- only 5 percent of Apple device owners claim not to have downloaded a free app.

However, at the same time, the percentage of users downloading paid-for apps is falling -- 69 % of users in 2013 say they've downloaded premium titles, compared with 72 percent in 2012.

The findings seem to confirm those in a recent Flurry Analytics report from July 18 that claims smartphone and tablet app developers are moving from paid to ad-supported apps as a means of building their market share and popularity.

In 2010, 84 percent of apps across the Android and Apple iOS platforms were free or used advertising to support costs and despite a small wobble in 2012 when the number briefly dropped to 80 percent, as of April this year, 90 % of all apps are now free.

However, that means that 10 percent of all apps are not free and of that group, iPad-optimized titles are the most costly (average price $0.50), followed by iPhone/iPod Touch apps (average price $0.19) with Android apps (average price $0.06) the cheapest.

In NPD's study, gaming appears to be the most popular app category -- 81 percent of US iDevice owners claim to have downloaded a free game; while in second place, 70 percent of users have installed a free social networking app.