It’s easy to get a skewed sense of reality in the media centric world that is New York City. It’s even easier when you work and live around folks enamored with shiny new gadgets and the apps that run on them. The app that most of my friends are using is Foursquare, but I would venture to guess the greater majority of folks outside the metropolitan area are not.
Foursquare recently reached 6 million users, an impressive number. An even more impressive number, they were adding users at a rate of 100,000 a week last summer. Foursquare grew to 1 million users in six months, something it took Twitter two years to accomplish. Although it took Foursquare two years to reach 2 million users, while it took Facebook Places two months to reach thirty million users. (It would be interesting to know how many of those thirty million actively decided to join Facebook Places or were unwittingly “checked-in” by their friends.)
Instagram, which allows users to post photos from their phone and attach them to Foursquare “check ins,” reached the magic 1 million user number in three months and then doubled that number just six weeks later. A real-time stream of photos from this year’s Grammys was powered by Instagram. There are roughly 5 billion cell phone subscriptions in the world, putting Foursquare’s penetration of the market at .12%
So which apps are mobile users actually downloading?
iOS, the operating system that iPhone runs on, represents 28% of the smartphone market. In January, Apple revealed the top free iOS apps, led by Facebook and followed by Pandora, Google Mobile, Shazam, and Flixster while games dominate the top paid iOS apps. Location based apps like Gowalla, Foursquare, Loopt, and Brightkite failed to make the top 10.
On the Android platform, which has a 27% share of the smartphone market, the Kindle app leads the pack. There are two location based apps in the Android top ten. Layar Reality Browser is an augmented reality app that lets you point your phone’s camera at the world around you and then returns information about it. Places Directory gives you a list of restaurants and other places in the area around you. Neither have the option to “check-in” to places.