Nielsen: Facebook Dominates Smartphones App Market

Web measurement firm Nielsen published “The State of Mobile Apps” survey on Monday, and showed the prominence Facebook applications among different mobile operating systems.

Out of the 4,200 users in the survey who downloaded apps in the past month, the three leading platforms — iPhone, Blackberry and Android — each were home to a Facebook app with more than 50% penetration. Note that “apps” refers to official Facebook mobile apps, like Facebook for iPhone, not to third-party apps that use Facebook’s platform.

Just under a quarter of those surveyed — 21% — of U.S. wireless subscribers had smartphones at the end of 2009, which was up from 14% the previous year. According to Nielsen, the average smartphone has 22 apps. This number changes dramatically for the iPhone, which had an average of 37, although the Android with 22, Palm with 14, Windows Mobile with 13 and BlackBerry with 10 all fall in line with Nielsen’s mean.

Although games, both free and paid, were the most downloaded apps in Nielsen’s survey the percentage of smartphones that counted the Facebook app was: 58% for iPhones, 50% for Android and 51% for Blackberry. Overall Facebook was the most popular social network app, with MySpace still popular with the teen crowd.

While “The State of Mobile Apps” is an interesting collection of data, it’s not a surprise, but rather a confirmation of a trend we’ve been reporting on for some time. For example, earlier this year Facebook announced that 25% of users — 100 million of the then-total 400 million — used Facebook mobile services.

We have reported extensively on how Facebook was going after mobile, most recently in our Inside Facebook Gold service, where we noted that Facebook functions like Photos and Events were key to how the social network hoped to approach mobile features such as location. But we also pointed to the way Facebook promotes its mobile services when web site users log off, the development of the “0” mobile site is surely a play for mobile users and the fact that the iPhone Facebook app is continually being improved.

All of these developments have undeniably contributed to Facebook’s domination of the mobile app market.
But using our AppData service, which counts daily and monthly users for Facebook applications, sheds some new light on how exactly these mobile apps are growing.

Unsurprisingly, iFacebook for iPhone has shown steady growth recently. In just the past month the iPhone app grew from 33.5 million to about 35.8 million monthly active users and from 17.3 to about 18.2 million dailies (see chart below).

Most of the other Facebook mobile apps are also growing, but not keep up as strong a pace as the iPhone app. Research in Motion’s Facebook for BlackBerry grew from 16.8 million monthly users to 17.7 million and 10.2 million to 10.4 million daily active users in the past month. Facebook for Android also showed growth over time. Palm’s two apps, Facebook for Palm webOS and Palm OS diverged where growth was concerned. Palm webOS grew over the past monthly while Palm OS is actually losing users.

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