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UK Android users shun games in favor of shopping

Smartphone owners more likely to use their devices to visit Amazon or check their bank account than to play Cut the Rope or Angry Birds.

business Updated: Feb 20, 2013 12:41 IST

Smartphone owners more likely to use their devices to visit Amazon or check their bank account than to play Cut the Rope or Angry Birds.

The results, published this week by Nielsen Smartphone Analytics, were gathered by installing a monitoring app on participants' handsets to record app use.

They reveal that UK Android smartphone owners are more concerned with shopping and banking than with games. Nielsen found that among the 15,000-person sample, the fastest growing apps in terms of popularity are functional rather than focused on entertainment.

"Seven of the 15 major apps experiencing the fastest-growing usage by UK Android smartphone users are commerce apps. These include apps used to buy digital products, general retail products and experiences through social commerce. Of the other eight, two are banking apps, but only one is a game," Nielsen said in an accompanying statement.

The study, which covered UK usage of Android apps between May and October 2012, ranks the 15 fastest growing apps as follows:

1. Amazon AppStore
2. HSBC Fast Balance
3. Flipboard
4. Tesco
5. MX Player
6. Quidco
7. Coin Dozer
8. Google+
9. Google Play Movies & TV
10. TopCashBack
11. Lloyds TSB Mobile Banking
12. Asda
13. Google Books
14. Instagram
15. Tune-In Radio

Nielsen defines ‘fastest growing' as the total time an app was open on a smartphone user's screen over the course of the six-month study. It's therefore interesting that banking apps are proving so popular, especially considering security concerns around mobile devices, a subject that has received more than its fair share of coverage over the past 12 months in the UK press. However, Nielsen's results show that users interact with the HSBC Fast Balance app and the Lloyds TSB app for an average of 20 minutes each month.

"Apps have grown up. The list shows that consumers are now seeking apps which help them with real-world tasks, not just fun gimmicks and games," said David Gosen, Nielsen managing director for digital in Europe.

The report also includes the 10 most popular Android apps by reach for the month of October and again games are conspicuous by their absence:

1. Google Play
2. Google Search
3. Facebook
4. Google Maps
5. Calendar
6. Gmail
7. YouTube
8. Calculator
9. eBay Mobile
10. Whatsapp Messenger

This lack of gaming could be explained by the Android operating system itself. Very few gaming titles have experienced the levels of success on Android as they have on

Apple's iOS operating system and this is partly because of the sheer number of different devices with different chip sets and different versions of the operating system either in use or still on the market. The latest official Android usage figures from Google show that as of February, 45.6 percent of the world's Android devices are still running the Gingerbread operating system, a system that has been defunct for almost two years. Only 13.6 percent of users have a tablet or a smartphone that runs Jelly Bean, the most recent version of Android.

As a result, app developers have to build games capable of running on so many different versions of the same Android operating system, reducing a finished game's performance. This is a problem that developers for Apple's platform do not face. Over 60 percent of iPhones are currently running the latest version of iOS.