Tablet users pay far more than you'd think for online apps and content

Some of them, inexplicably, download apps and content but don't use them

From the department of research into the painfully obvious: More than 90 percent of tablet users in the U.S. have downloaded and used at least one app in the past year.

Actually the big finding in this survey from the Online Publishers Association (OPA) – which was obviously looking for some way to tie its name to the hot tablet market but couldn't think of research questions that would puzzle a monkey – isn't the high percentage of users downloading apps.

What else would you do with a tablet?

What would you do with a PC, for that matter? Uninstall all the crapware, slide in the DVDs and install your own software.

Tablets don't rely apps crass enough to be stored in physical media. They're designed to download their software, just as is the case with smartphones.

So saying 90 percent of tablet owners download apps is like saying 90 percent of PC users use their PCs. It's only surprising because the number isn't 100 percent.

The average user downloads 20 apps per year, which seems low. Maybe that's 20 they failed to delete within a certain period.

The third most surprising bit of legitimate information is that 79 percent of all users paid for the apps they downloaded – an average of $53 apiece, which would be astonishingly high for phone apps bought at 99 cents apiece.

Tablets make their owners happy, however; 89 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with their bit of digital flotsam. So maybe the money is well spent.

The second most surprising factlet is that only 67 percent of responders said they have an iPad or iPad2. Judging by media frenzy and lines at Apple Stores I would have guessed that percentage would be well into three digits, driven above 100 percent by iManiacs who spawn off separate personalities as an excuse to own more than one magic tablet.

The really surprising datum in this imitation of research was that the number of tablet owners who have downloaded apps is actually 93 percent; only 90 percent used those apps.

What are the other three percent doing?

Phone- and tablet-based apps have a far higher rate of shelfware disuse than (more expensive) PC-based apps. It's not surprising that a lot of the 20 apps each user downloaded per year went unused.

A certain percentage of people will always be contrarian – too worried about privacy or security to download apps at all, or just to focused on whatever it is you can do with a tablet without extra apps.

But what about the 3 percent who downloaded apps but never used a single one?

The rest of the study shows only 87 percent used their tablets to access online content, and 46 percent said the ads they found while browsing were relevant and interesting.

That alone would be enough to get me to turn the page. Unless the people answering your survey came exclusively from a population of Mad Men and masochists, there is not a block of 46 percent of any group that genuinely enjoys ads in media they approach for the content.

That's probably where the mystery 3 percent came from: people who want to download apps and read content online but aren't willing to put up with ads to do it.

That, at least, would be a good reason for a silly behavior, which is more logic than recommends the rest of the study.

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