When it comes to apps, tablet users are bigger spenders

The nearly $100 billion app market may not be dominated by tablets, but slate owners spend more on average for content than their smartphone counterparts.

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Both smartphone and tablet usage are at all-time highs, but new data shows the tablet is still king among app spenders.

In new research from Frank N. Magid Associates, smartphone use has hit a record high in the US, counting 71 percent of the population this year -- up 10 percentage points from last year and up 40 points since 2011. Tablet use has risen even faster, hitting 57 percent of the population this year -- up 13 points from last year and up 45 points since 2011.

While tablet usage is comparatively lower, spending is still far higher. In the past year, 60 percent of tablet users said they spent money on apps, compared to 54 percent of smartphone users. On average, consumers spent $19 for apps on tablets, far higher than the $13 average spent by smartphone users. In-app purchasing on tablets, averaged at $16, is nearly double the $9 spent on smartphones. In total, tablet customers spent $55 each on average for content, compared with smartphone users at $42 each.

The only place spending is even? Subscription services, such as streaming music or video apps, which were $20 on both smartphones and tablets.

The new data underscores device companies' continued interest in tablets despite clearly softening interest among consumers. Sales of Apple's iPad have been disappointing, and IDC recently slashed its worldwide forecast for tablet sales this year, saying consumer's appetites were waning fast.

Despite this, and likely contributing to Magid's sales data, video games continue to be the top avenue of spending in the app store. Consumers spent about $16 billion on mobile apps last year, according to a study by App Annie and IHS; Spending on video games represented more than 70 percent of that amount. Worldwide revenue from tablet games alone is expected to more than triple to $13.3 billion by 2019, according to a survey by Juniper Research. The firm said tablets will continue to pull in such revenue in part because they're pulling customers away from traditional portable gaming devices, like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS.

About the author

Ian Sherr is an executive editor for the west coast at CNET News. He writes about social networking and manages coverage of video games, Internet giants, cybersecurity, the sharing economy, e-commerce and wearable tech. Previously, he wrote about Apple, the PC industry and video games at The Wall Street Journal. He's also written for Reuters and the Agence France-Presse, among others. He's a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, though he knows what real weather feels like too.

 

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