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Mobile Software Buying Trends for 2010

Our friends at ElasticPath forwarded their 2010 Consumer Software Buying Trends report to me the other day. Of note was some interesting variations from what I had always assumed about mobile software downloads, as well as a fair share of confirmations.

Some of its better findings were:

  • The surveyed claimed that online content was their primary purchase influencer and that marketing campaigns, social media, and box covers are comparatively unimportant to them. 
  • Spending on games dominate mobile devices, with 59% of people saying they've downloaded them.
  • 44% of software downloaded for smart phones is in the 1-$50 range, and 32% is free. (ed. note: I'm curious as to why they split this as they did. Surely the lack of $50+ software, along with the plethora of $1 software, would skew these results quite heavily. Perhaps this would be more interesting if it was split by $1-5, $5-15, $15-20, $25+ 
  • 46% said that they have switched to free software, and that it is as good as the paid equivalent.
  • Independent, cheap/free applications dominate downloads.
  • I'll leave this on in their words: “thirty-nine percent of software consumers have done at least one of these social media activities: written online product reviews, shared their experiences on social network sites, posted comments in online user forums, or blogged about their experiences.”

This last one blows me away. Only 39%? I suppose this shouldn't surprise me too much, since most software doesn't press you too hard for a review (well, except the iTunes store), but it shows how much room there is for improvement.

It's also impressive to see how free software has returned to be a powerful player in the software industry. I don't think we've seen this kind of strength since Gates wrote his infamous “pirates” letter, denouncing the idea that software was “free”.

Even more surprising though, is that more $1-50 software is sold than free software. I don't know if this is because of an over-dominance of $1 software, or not but one would think that the hockey-stick effect of making something free would make up the difference. Then again, it may also be the case that in the smart-phone software market the sheer amount of low-quality free software actually serves to hide good free software, making the low price of $1-5 goods worth it over the time sink oh trying to find a good free program.

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