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Friday, February 15, 2013

Digital Diary: Are We Suffering From Mobile App Burnout

At last count, I had 259 applications on my iPhone.

I probably use 16 regularly â€" including Google Maps, Messages, Twitter for iPhone and Instagram.

When I got my first iPhone in late 2008, I couldn’t wait to peruse the App Store for cool new games, neat productivity tools and quirky new social services. In a way, it felt like what television once was, a new kind of inexpensive, readily available entertainment. During those early days, people rushed to download the next new thing, and Apple’s swiftly rising count of the number of applications available was a hallmark of success. The sheer number of apps gave Apple a significant market appeal and a seemingly unbeatable lead over rivals like Android and Research in Motion, who all scrambled to try to recreate those successes.

But now the App Store just feels daunting. Apple recently said there were 775,000 applictions for the iPhone and iPad available on its virtual shelves. Who has the time to sift through that glut to uncover new gems

Of course, trendy new games and services like Tiny Tower and Draw Something still float up and become all the rage. But they typically fade away, at least for me. Although I download new applications constantly for my job, it is rare that one becomes integral to my daily routine. I just don’t have the time to use more than I’m already using. Does anyone

I asked a few friends, and their behavior is similar to mine. One friend who lives in Los Angeles said he had 150 applications installed on his phone. He estimates that he uses about 15 on a daily basis. Another friend, this one in New York, told me he had 104 apps on his phone and used around 20 regularly.

This seems to correlate with a larger study by Nielsen, which found that the average number of applications per smartphone was rising, but that the amount of time people spent using apps had not changed much. The most heavily used apps were Facebook, YouTube, the Android Market, Google Search and Gmail.

Onavo, a company that helps people monitor their data use, estimates that only about 1,000 applications have at least 50,000 users in the United States. The rest remain far from the mainstream.

For the typical app, less than half the people who download it use it more than once, said Guy Rosen, the chief executive of Onavo.

Do you suffer from app overload How many apps do you have in your phone, and how many of those do you actually use Do you find yourself shutting yourself off to new apps because you simply can’t handle any more