• January 1, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

There's an App for That, But Does Anyone Care?

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Since 2008, the Apple App Store and Google Play have seen more than 150 billion downloads of mobile applications that allow users to do just about anything they could imagine, but for many consumers, the siren song of mobile apps just isn't as loud or enticing anymore.

Perhaps paradoxically, consumers today are spending more time on their smartphones but are using fewer apps. U.S. and U.K. consumers spend more than 80 percent of their time on just five apps, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

"Consumers have mobile app fatigue," says Thomas Husson, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.

Few branded apps are used with any kind of regularity or deliver strong enough benefits to command any kind of loyalty from consumers, according to Husson, author of Forrester's "The State of Mobile Technology for Marketers, 2014" report.

And quite often, the apps that are used aren't the type that marketing executives would like. Mapping, messaging, search, social media, gaming, and Internet radio are among the apps used most frequently. The vast majority (59 percent) of smartphone users also rely on apps on their mobile devices to get sports, weather, or news updates at least once a week.

ComScore also paints a bleak picture of the mobile app environment, finding that 65 percent of U.S. smartphone owners aren't adding new apps to their devices. Additionally, nearly half of all downloading is done by just 7 percent of smartphone owners, and 42 percent of all app time spent on smartphones occurs in a single app that is used most often, the firm found.

"The average person maybe downloads one app per month," says Adam Lella, a marketing insights analyst at ComScore. "People are downloading apps but using very few of them."

While he's not yet ready to identify the trend as app fatigue, Lella definitely has seen a drop-off in mobile app usage among consumers as well. For some, especially owners of older smartphone models, device storage space is a factor. "The apps that they're not using are the 

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