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Less than half of app users have ever paid for an app

Less than half of app users have ever actually paid money for an app, although tablets owners are more likely to spend.

Less than half of app users have ever actually paid money for an app, according to research. New figures reveal 46 per cent of phone and tablet users who have downloaded apps have stuck with free apps rather than forking out.

US researchers at Pew Research say that means just 13 per cent of all adult US mobile phone users have paid for an app.

These stats are bad news for app developers hoping to cash in on the iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet boom. App use is up generally -- Apple's app store has shifted more than 15 billion apps -- but it seems many of those app users have no app-etite for handing over their shekels -- even for 70p apps.

But when asked what was the most they had paid, 8 per cent said they had paid more than $20 for an app. 10 per cent said they had paid between one and two dollars, and 14 per cent said they had paid between three and five bucks.

There's good news for anyone working on tablet apps, though. Tablet users emerge as much more likely to hand over some wonga for an app, and more likely to pay top whack too.

It's a safe bet that most of those tablet users are iPad owners, as the iPad leads slate sales by a country mile. One of the biggest problems with Honeycomb, the tablet version of Android, is that there aren't enough tablet-specific apps -- although Google reckons it's fixed that problem by folding together smart phone and tablet software in Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

It's also a criticism of Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system that there isn't a very wide choice of apps compared to Apple or Android phones.

Are you an app-oholic? Do you regularly buy apps, or do you baulk at anything with a price tag? Are apps the most important thing to think of when you're buying a new phone, or the least important? Tell us your thoughts in the comments, on our Facebook page, or at Google+.