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Apps Closing In On Music As The Leading Activity on iTunes

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The number of iTunes users has increased from an estimated 50 million U.S. internet consumers in 2010 to 67 million this year, based on usage over the past three months.

­While listening to music files on iTunes is still the most popular application, it has been on the decline for the past two years. While the percentage of iTunes users who downloaded individual digital songs has been holding steady at 29 percent since 2011, it has been surpassed by acquisition of free apps, which 35 percent of iTunes users reported downloading in 2013.

"Even though apps are a growing part of the iTunes experience, one in four respondents reported using iTunes to sample music, so the discovery component that is so key to selling music is still strong," said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "It will be interesting to see the extent to which music re-establishes dominance, when iTunes Radio launches later this year."

Nearly All iPhone, iPod, and iPad Users Download Apps

The percentage of iPhone operating system (iOS) users who downloaded apps for free has remained steady, from 94 percent in 2012 to 95 percent in 2013; however, the average volume of free apps downloaded has increased slightly, from an average of 32 free apps in 2012 to 35 apps this year. Paid app buyers declined slightly, from 72 percent to 69 percent. Despite discussions about app fatigue, on average iOS users paid to download eight apps in 2013, which is unchanged from the previous year.

Games were the most popular free apps downloaded by iOS users this year (81 percent), followed by social networking (70 percent), utilities (55 percent), and music (54 percent). Games also led paid app downloads (72 percent), followed by music (18 percent), and health and fitness (13 percent).

"Its interesting to see what consumers aren't rushing to purchase on iTunes," Crupnick noted. "When given $25 to spend, over 90 percent of respondents reported that they would not buy a newspaper or magazine, only 12 percent would buy a book, and just 15 percent would buy a movie. While that situation speaks to the draw of music and games, it's also an opportunity to widen the categories that iTunes could promote."

Top Ways Used iTunes (Past Three Months)

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Tags: apple itunes  mobile music  mobile apps