In one sampling, only about 3 percent of employees using company-supplied devices and service plans were getting apps via premium text-based downloads or directly from wireless carriers’ on-deck apps. But the carriers were getting an average of $6 from each paid download.
Of that 3 percent, about 18 percent of the downloads were for games; almost 11 percent were for navigation; and 15 percent were for music, which includes songs as well as apps that manage music or offer a subscription to some kind of music service.
That analysis comes from Validas, the company that offers rate plan analysis and mobile bill audit services for consumers, including enterprises, of major U.S. carriers. Validas analyzed one enterprise’s activity between October 2009 and May of this year and found nearly 55 percent of on-deck downloads were paid and 45 percent were free.
The trends in the enterprise probably aren’t surprising given that enterprise users are consumers at heart, notes Ed Finegold, executive vice president of analytics at Validas, which gleans data from cell phone bills and combines that with patent-pending analytics to track trends.
Finegold looked at about 9,000 downloads drawn from more than 291,000 individual users’ bill details to find that 3 percent of the lines were accessing free or paid downloads. Only 13 of the 9,000 downloads were classified as business related, and most of them were “field force manager” type apps and remote sync. “There doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of compelling business apps, especially not paid ones,” he says.
A separate category for e-mail apps, which could be considered a business-related app, represented 4.6 percent of all downloads in the study.
The “future” category, which consists of apps like horoscopes, represented a tiny fraction of the downloads, but almost 97 percent of them were paid and cost about $10 a pop.
Interestingly, 1.1 percent of the downloads were adult related and about 56 percent of those were paid for, averaging $5.41 a look. The adult segment includes apps with themes like “hotties” and “hunks.”
Most of the time, companies don’t employ someone to audit this kind of stuff, and Finegold says he doesn’t know of any example where Validas called out a specific employee because he or she downloaded something that wasn’t directly (or even remotely) related to the job. Validas in the past has advised clients, like an unnamed state government entity, to block employee devices from being able to do downloads so they don’t get saddled with the charges regardless of the apps’ potential for increasing productivity.
Downloads in the study included only on-deck downloads from carrier portals and downloads associated with premium text services, like when a phrase is sent to a short code for download. Some of the activity consisted of people giving to charity, and most of those apps cost between $5 and $10; a lot of that was connected to the Haiti relief efforts in January.