Do iPhone Apps Live Longer than Fruit Flies?

iPhone app users spend about 9.6 minutes at a time with their apps, accessing them nearly 20 times before they're abandoned.

iPhone app users are a fickle lot.

But they could be highly lucrative, too. A new study by mobile ad firm Greystripe found that users of iPhone applications spend about 9.6 minutes at a time with their apps, accessing them nearly 20 times before they're abandoned.

That exposure could prove lucrative for advertisers and developers who are looking for ways to cash in on the craze behind the iPhone's mobile apps, according to Greystripe. The firm's quarterly Consumer Insights Report (PDF format) looked at how owners of the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone are really using their downloaded apps -- and what the payoff might be.

The study is one of the first to take a close look at users of iPhone apps, the wild success of which just enabled Apple to celebrated its one billionth download. Despite their popularity, however, little has been known of how users interact with the apps they download.

"The biggest question about iPhone applications for brands and publishers centers around market size, revenue and usage," Greystripe CEO Michael Chang, said in a statement.

For one thing, the study found that 44 percent of iPhone app users have a household income of $78,000 or more, while 15 percent earn $165,000 or more. Forty-four percent have children.

The company's report also revealed an almost even gender split among app users: 52 percent are male and 48 percent are female. It also found that 45 percent are within the highly sought-after demographic of ages 18 to 34, while 91 percent of their iPhone app users are involved in their household purchasing decisions.

Clearly, the iPhone app demographic is appealing and mobile advertisers will be trying to capitalize on the trend, according to Greystripe's report.

But the unprecedented popularity of the App Store and the lucrative customer base it serves has spawned plenty of competitors in the mobile space, including Research in Motion (RIM), which launched its App World for BlackBerry online store last month.

And while the market is growing, it's unclear whether Apple can retain its lead. The number of mobile application users is set to quadruple in five years to about 140 million, according to research from In-Stat. And while Apple's iPhone is leading the charge, In-Stat has said that worldwide sales of open source-based smartphones are expected to be double that of devices based on Apple's software over the same time period.

The field's growth will have important implications for the marketing and advertising world, In-Stat said. With the increase in smartphone app usage creating unprecedented opportunities for mobile marketing, a whole new industry catering to mobile ad analytics will spring up, according to the analyst firm.

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Tags: open source, iPhone, iphone apps, smartphones

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