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.