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Nielsen: In smartphones, apps, Android rule

A boatload of statistics from Nielsen paint a broader picture of how Americans are using smartphones and tablets today.

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We love smartphone and tablet statistics just as much as the next guy, and we got an earful of them at today's Mobilize conference this morning, thanks to Nielsen general manager of digital, Jonathan Carson.

Unfortunately, we couldn't get our hands on all the great pie charts and graphs--at least not yet, anyway--but we did walk away with some interesting numbers floating through our brain. Some we've already known for some time, and some are new to us. Seeing them in context creates a bigger picture of how tablets and smartphones are being used in America--or at least in Nielsen's test pool.

Android, apps rule

  • 58 percent of new devices sold are smartphones
  • Of those new devices sold, 56 percent of people buying a new smartphone pick Android
  • Android has taken almost 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market
  • Android users aren't making calls or even using the Internet (the latter only happens 9 percent of the time); the vast majority of activity (55 percent) is spent on apps
  • The top 10 apps on a mobile platform account for 43 percent of the user's attention, and the top 50 apps command almost all of it
  • However, the top 50 apps change by the month. For instance, from June to July 2011, 11 of the top 50 apps changed spots

Where tablets excel

  • Tablets are used mostly for reading the news (61 percent), e-reading (44 percent), playing music (35 percent), and watching TV (31 percent)
  • Newsreading numbers are close for tablets and smartphones (61 percent; 51 percent for smartphones)
  • But tablets are utilized more for e-reading (44 percent versus 12 percent for smartphones), watching TV (31 percent versus 8 percent on smartphones), and reading magazines (26 percent versus 6 percent for smartphones).