The use of functional apps, which for example allow consumers to make purchases or conduct banking transactions, is growing faster among UK Android smartphone users than the use of gaming or fun apps. Seven of the 15 major apps experiencing the fastest-growing usage by UK Android smartphone users are commerce apps, according to figures released today by global information and insights firm Nielsen. These include apps used to buy digital products, general retail products, and experiences through social commerce. Of the other eight, two are banking apps, but only one is a game.

Rank App Name Classification Growth in Total Time Spent Reach (Oct 2012) Time per user [mins] (Oct 2012)
1 Amazon AppStore Digital Store 7.6 x 10.7% 1524%
2 HSBC Fast Balance Banking 6.4 x 4.2% 1980%
3 Flipboard News/Information 4.4 x 6.2% 5319%
4 Tesco Shopping 3.8 x 5.7% 1365%
5 MX Player Utility 3.7 x 4.0% 4779%
6 Quidco Social Commerce 3.5 x 13.1% 2061%
7 Coin Dozer Game 3.0 x 6.2% 16630%
8 Google+ Social Network/ Messaging 2.7 x 17.5% 1938%
9 Google Play Movies & TV Digital Store 2.6 x 4.2% 1088%
10 TopCashBack Social Commerce 2.5 x 6.3% 609%
11 Lloyds TSB Mobile Banking Banking 2.3 x 5.5% 2056%
12 Asda Shopping 2.3 x 4.0% 1663%
13 Google Books Digital Store 2.1 x 8.2% 1391%
14 Instagram Social Network/ Messaging 2.1 x 13.9% 7876%
15 Tune-In Radio Entertainment 2.1 x 8.4% 2651%

Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics study of the fast-growing Android apps between May and October 2012, is based on the increase in the total time that an app is visible on users’ screens.

Banking apps are attracting smartphone users. HSBC Fast Balance and Lloyds TSB are the third and thirteenth fastest-growing of all apps, with users engaging with them for around 20 minutes on average each month. Retail apps are also experiencing greater reach and engagement. Tesco’s and Asda’s apps are the fastest growing in their sector in the study. The Tesco app reached 145% more users and those users spent 45% more time engaging with it between May and October 2012.

Nielsen managing director for digital in Europe David Gosen comments: “Apps have grown up. The list shows that consumers are now seeking apps which help them with real-world tasks, not just fun gimmicks and games.

“Nielsen Smartphone Analytics allows us to accurately measure and forecast how users interact with apps and their smartphones in general. The implications for the mobile world are enormous in terms of being able to show the demand for apps by demographic, what’s driving their usage and how it varies by operator.”

Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics electronically measures smartphone usage at device level. Using the most-established Android panel in the UK, with an average 1500+ monthly adult users who have opted to install a meter on their smartphone, it focuses on traffic, application usage, web usage, telephony and hardware performance. Nielsen calculated the growth based on an increase in reach and the average duration of use per active user between May and October 2012. The duration per user is when the screen is on and the application is in focus, with background activity deliberately removed. The criteria for applications to be included were a minimum reach of 4% and a minimum time-spent growth of 30% in October. System apps, such as camera or native email, were not included.