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Why Are iPhone Users So Much More Likely to Embrace Apps?

Compete recently ran a story in their blog that I thought was fascinating.  They’ve measured a dramatically higher uptake of applications among iPhone users versus other Smartphone users.  Here’s the graph they presented:

The bars represent number of apps on the phone.  As you can see, only 7% have no apps at all on the iPhone versus 34% on other Smartphones.

I have a theory about all this that’s resonated as I read various folks comparing various phones to the iPhone.  It seems to me that other smartphones trade principally on their keyboards as the advantage.  They appeal to people who are really tied in to email, or perhaps text messaging of various forms. 

The iPhone, by contrast, trades on its web browser.  That’s not to say the other capabilities aren’t excellent, but the web browser is what really makes the iPhone rock.  This was distinctly the flavor I got, for example, from Fred Wilson’s comparison of the G1 versus the iPhone.

That means that if you love the iPhone, you are somewhat predisposed to the notion of a mobile platform.  It’s pretty hard to view a keyboard for email or text messaging as a platform.  They’re just more of the same only you type instead of speaking.  But a web browser truly is a platform.

The other piece is just how easy Apple has made it to download the apps and run with them.  The user experience is completely seamless and straightforward enough that anyone can do it almost automatically. 

Lastly, application developers want to build for the iPhone.  They love it.  I know several different folks who are fighting through what I view as an extremely primitive development platform (Objective C?  Come on Apple, you and Adobe need to bury the hatchet and get a real interpreted language onto the iPhone!) to have a chance to do that.

BTW, the Compete blog is excellent.  I love the insights they pull out of the web using data mining.  Check it out.

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No sooner did I post this than Om Malik came out with a post confirming he thinks of the iPhone vs others in essentially the same way.

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