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Apps are redefining internet and social media usage

Apps: an abbreviation of ‘application software‘ – pieces of software that are generally very easy to download and install and that are often very specific in the task they are programmed to do.

At the moment we most commonly associate apps with mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, but the term ‘app’ and app download/purchase environments (eg. App stores) are also making an appearance on the Chrome browser and as part of the latest version of Apple’s Snow Leopard operating system.

Some may argue that it’s just a change in the wording furniture, what used to be called ‘widgets‘ are now apps – for example the Opera browser has had them for years, and FireFox has long had what it terms extensions and plugins.* These add-ons have added to the services and tasks that can be done within the browser. I could also note here that the term ‘desk top app’ has been with us for a few years too.

Be that as it may, the popularisation of the term and understanding of ‘app’ – which we should probably look to Apple for – has meant that these bits of software that add to our experience of the internet have seen a significant growth and are changing the way we access, use and utilise the internet.

As part of Social Media Week, Tom Smith from Global Web Index has published research on what this means for social media, which makes for interesting reading. In particular, how apps and mobile usage are already matching PC usage for accessing social networks, writing blog posts and updating microblogs such as Twitter (see slide 14).

* This may well be notional rather than a precise understanding of the difference between these terms, so please do clarify significant differences in the comments below.

European social media trends – not always what we expect

When we talk about social media there is often a focus on what is happening in the UK and the US, but as the following presentations show, whilst London may be the Twitter capital of Europe and possibly the world, preferences, adoption and behaviour varies greatly from country to country. As the World of Tweets experiment shows we cannot make presumptions and there are many nuances to European usage, as Robin Grant pointed out earlier this year.

So here are a selection of really useful presentations on European social media trends, that may blow away a few sterotypes:

First up: spot which country uses the internet most socially in this presentation by Global Web Index

We then have the third Wave report by Universal McCann, and shows the changes and developments since the first report, whilst the research is global there is a lot of European data here.

Game-on

Some folk like Scrabble, others Monopoly, some enjoy Snap, others relax over Chess. We each have games we enjoy and games we avoid like the plague. And it’s no different online. Many are puzzled by the popularity of Farmvillethe Facebook social game (although aren’t all games social?) that let’s you ‘farm with your friends’. You often hear the phrase ‘I just don’t get it’ when referencing the game, yet with 55,468,666 current active users it’s something many do ‘get’ and like.

Farmville is just one of a myriad of such interactive, casual games that you can play with others on the now humongous social network, so in case you thought it was something only some of your more annoying friends did to fill your news page here are some stats via All Facebook:

PS. Noted re. the map of ‘England’. The size of the population for the country is about right though (UK total was estimated at 61.8 million in 2009 by the Office for National Statistics).