Older people use apps very differently than youngsters

Oldies are using mobile apps for ‘desktop-era’ services, like e-mail; whereas the youth of today rely on newer app-concepts, such as messaging, says a study. IT needs to cotton-on.

app annie lead image

Screen grab from Kakao’s website

Credit: Kakao

The older generation use smartphone apps in a completely different way to their juniors, says a new report.

An example includes that older people prioritize traditional e-mail adapted for apps when they want to communicate; whereas Millennials and other youngsters rely on app-originating messaging, the study from App Annie says.

App Annie is an app intelligence company which provides market data for app developers and business.

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Older users are also spend more time in mobile browsers, the company says.

App Annie reckons that older people (older than 45) may be underserved by app developers. Part of the problem may be that the language and imagery used in app design isn’t suitable for that demographic. Developers should thus consider “tailoring language and imagery” if they want to see more mobile app use among that group.

And they’re worth perusing, the marketing outfit says. That’s because older folk spend more time in sessions than youngsters, so theoretically those marketing their wares have longer to do it in, if they can reach the user in the session—session frequency is less. App Annie calls it “deeper communication” in the report.

As we might have suspected, teenagers and the early 20s age group are the opposite of the oldies. Those aged 13 to 24 perform “short, frequent app sessions” and have the “highest overall time” in apps.

They use messaging apps extensively as a substitute for e-mail. “Adapt your communications strategy,” the marketing firm suggests. It’s pitching its advice at those who want to reach consumers in order to sell them things, but it may not be bad advice for IT too.

We’re already seeing chat, or ‘instant messaging’ make some inroads at enterprise level. Symphony is a new chat service geared towards business, for example. It was launched last year for the financial information vertical and its iOS and Android platform is “coming soon,” it promises on its website. Slack is a team communication tool that includes direct messaging.

Frequent, short visits to apps from those in the 13-to-24 group “require streamlined UX and tailored communications and advertisements,” App Annie says in the report. There’s a “retention risk” too, it explains. The group are so prolific and eager to adopt, that they might not stick around the offerings, the marketing firm thinks.

Those app users in the middle of the two aforementioned groups are aged between 25 and 44. They are neither heavily engaged, nor unengaged. App use is “growing quickly” anyway, App Annie says.

But probably the most interesting point made by the app outfit in its study is that younger users are approaching app-use differently than older ones. The example it uses of messaging over e-mail was actually first seen in Asia where electronic communication is dominated by messaging platforms.

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“Electronic communications in the US may soon resemble some Asian markets where messaging platforms like Kakao Talk and WeChat dominate,” the report says on App Annie’s website.

Multimedia messaging service Kakao Talk has over 100 million users, it proclaims in a Google search result.

Presumably, and if you look at the cute friends-stickers and animated emoticons on its website, those 100 million are going to be predominantly not the oldies that App Annie is talking of in its study.

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