Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Australian consumers are showing signs of being sceptical about the value of paid smartphone and tablet apps, a new survey has found.

cartoon hands holding mobiles
There’s not a lot of conversion from the free app to actually paying for something. That doesn’t bode well for the longevity of the app market place really.

- TERESA CORBIN, ACCAN

People don’t like paying for apps

“We were surprised at how little people were prepared to actively spend on apps,” ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin said. The survey found that on average consumers that paid for apps spent less than $20 during the last 12 months.

“It was a lot lower than we were expecting given that we’ve got such a high penetration of people with smartphones – it’s upwards of 75 per cent – clearly people are more focused on free apps and trying them out. At least part of the problem, the research revealed, was that consumers were negotiating “tension between being products and consumers” when it came to using apps. App developers monetise their apps by both selling them and using them to harvest consumer data.

While consumers were particularly attached to free social media apps they remained highly wary of allowing them excessive access to their private information.

Privacy is paramount 

Just over half app consumers (51 per cent) decided not to complete the installation of an app due to excessive demand for information. A further 30 per cent uninstalled an app for the same reason.

“There’s an enormous attraction to them, but I actually think the market could be a lot bigger if app developers started to think about how they’re informing consumers. A piece of research like this actually shows that they don’t fully install an app because they start to get concerned about the permission they must give to take information and they don’t understand what it might be used for, particularly when it comes to financial information and geographic location,” says Teresa.

Leaking sensitive financial information was a top fear among consumers, with 85 per cent concerned that an app could access credit card or bank account details. Access to personal photos was also a major concern with 63 per cent reporting that they were worried they would fall into a developer’s hands.

However, consumers were not prepared to put a high premium on privacy. The average price they were prepared to pay for a version of an app that respects privacy was $6.80.

“These prices make it seem as though Australians value their privacy, however the research revealed that 66 per cent said they would in fact pay nothing to download a version of an app that wouldn’t access their personal information,” ACCAN said in a statement.

man using a tablet, laptop and smartphone
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