The Apps That Connect Us – A Report on Women, Smart Phones and Mobile Apps

From Anne Piedmont, Piedmont Research Associates:

In the beginning was the telephone.

The telephone was bolted to the wall or sat on a table in the home or in a business. It was the connection with the rest of the world, the bringer of good news, bad news and gossip. Then, one day, the phone left the building – either in a “bag” or a car. And in a relatively short period of time, the mobile phone has moved from luxury to necessity to ubiquity.

The Apps That Connect Us - A Report on Women, Smart Phones and Mobile Apps While an estimated 300 million in the U.S. use mobile devices, women and men use them differently. A 2008 presentation by Cleverwood, a Belgian new media consulting firm, asked the question: What Women Want … In Mobile? Melanie McCluskey, vice president of executive advisory services at Belgacom, answered it:

  • Women tend to be multi-taskers and look for solutions to simplify their lives. Think washing machine, dishwasher or any other household appliance that seems one is unable to live without.
  • Women are the first to adopt any innovation that simplifies a task.
  • Women will consider an innovation if it is useful and not just a gadget.
  • Because women want useful, once a technology or app works for them, it will work for good.
  • Once adopted by women, an innovation will follow a much steeper adoption path as women share it with friends and convince them to adopt it as well.
  • Women use mobile devices for personal and emotional exchange.
  • Women want mobile apps that inform rather than entertain.

I'll add a quick word about the “Apps Culture,” as described in a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project released in September, 2010.

Pew found that while the use of apps is growing, it is still low compared to other mobile device features. Just 29 percent of adults report using an app, compared to 76 percent who use the phone’s camera or 72 percent who text.

Compared to other cell phone users and the general population, mobile apps users according to Pew tend to be male, and younger, more affluent and more educated. However, the Pew Apps Culture study, which used data from a phone survey of 2,252 adults conducted from April 29 to May 30 of 2010 by Princeton Survey research Associates, showed that despite the male dominance: 

  • Women were more likely (53 percent vs. 42 percent) to have used a social networking app in the last 30 days.
  • Women who used the Facebook app were more likely (64 percent vs. 55 percent to use it every day.
  • And, surprisingly, women were also more likely (63 percent vs. 58 percent) to have used a game app.

Neilsen found similar results in December 2009 through online, self-administered surveys with 4,265 apps downloaders originally identified in a previous survey. The results are based on the 3,962 adults ages 18 and older in the Nielsen sample who had downloaded an app in the past 30 days (the survey period).

  • Neilsen’s findings track with Pew’s showing that women are more likely to download games and social networking apps, as well as entertainment and music apps. Men are more likely to download banking/finance and productivity apps.
  • Forty-two percent of the downloaders in the Neilsen survey used Facebook in the survey month.
  • Of those who’ve downloaded Facebook, 59 percent use it daily, women more so than men: 64 percent who’ve downloaded it use it daily (55 percent of men do).

Women’s use of Facebook on their mobile devices is not surprising in light of McCluskey’s research – and in light of Facebook’s own statistics.

The majority of Facebook’s 145, 331,600 U.S. users (as of 11/24/10) are women – 79,840,860, or 55.9 percent.

For perspective, if they were a country, they’d rank 15th in population, between Germany and Ethiopia, and bigger than Egypt, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. (In the few days between when I found this statistic and when I wrote the report, Facebook added 803,460 female users, who moved ahead of Ethiopia in “population.”)

Facebook reports that it has 200 million total users (men and women) currently accessing its site through mobile devices.  And that those users are twice as active on Facebook as non-mobile users.


  • Is there a market for mobile apps that connect women? A population nearly the size of Germany would say yes. Women are the majority on Facebook and lead men in downloading Facebook apps to their mobile devices.
  • Women want useful, time-saving innovations and apps. And when they find them, they keep them. And tell their friends.
  • Women will continue to lead the social media revolution because they are, and always have been, connected to each other.

There should be an app for that.

Anne Piedmont is the founder of Piedmont Research Associates, an organization specializing in community research and statistics, competitive business intelligence, corporate writing services, and public relations.

How do you use mobile apps on your smartphone?  Women readers of Handshake 2.0 are invited to take The Apps That Connect Us – Women and Mobile Apps Survey, part of a study Piedmont Research Associates is conducting on women and mobile applications for She Chooses(TM), the social network app for women.  If you would, please share the survey with your friends and your networks and ask them to do the same.

Added 1/6/2011:
The Apps That Connect Us – A Report on Women, Smart Phones and Mobile Apps – Survey Results

These posts may be of further interest:

This Woman's Gotta Have Mobile Apps (case study)
Women and Apps – Mobile and Social
Best Mobile Apps for Women
Mobile Apps for Women in Business
Women and Smartphones

Women and Mobile Apps Survey
Your App FAQs


  1. so, why so gender centric ?

    why are apps different for women and men

  2. Pink Pad is an app for women that appears on several “best of” lists. Certainly men can download it, but I doubt they would find it of much use or interest.

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