updated 10:30 pm EDT, Thu July 11, 2013
One third could not give up using iOS apps for four days
In helping to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the iOS App Store yesterday, auction giant eBay -- who's own app is a consistent chart-dweller for mobile buying and selling -- revealed the results of a study that asked 200 iPhone users to resist activating any of the apps (other than the phone itself) for a period of four days. The results reveal a culture that is -- just five years after the first third-party apps appeared -- extremely dependent on them to organize their lives and perform their daily activities. Ebay monitored the four days without the apps and the first four days of participants getting to use them again.
Over one-third of the participants could not even get through the challenge, "cheating" on the study's requirements by using a social networking, photo-sharing, weather or navigation app most commonly. Users reported that when they were restricted from using apps, they realized very quickly that they relied on them heavily for things like fitness monitoring, shopping, photography, news and navigation among other things. Many reported feeling distraught, "lost," "naked," uniformed and "powerless" without the apps.
Once they were allowed to use them again, 55 percent of the participants said they felt happier, 40 percent said they were more productive (a finding backed up later in the study), 39 percent reported they felt calmer and 32 percent said they felt less frustrated. Users who had been denied using their apps for the four days and then were allowed to use them again also engaged with them even more than they did before, at least in the first few days after they were free to use them.
Nearly half of the study participants used and shared photos and videos more than before the abstainance, 48 percent read more news, 23 percent arranged more meetings with friends and family, 22 percent increased their used of money-budgeting programs, 21 percent shopped more, and others did more exercising, dating or eating after they could use the apps again.
The study found that on average, users saved about a half an hour per day in their daily activities using the apps versus not using them. Time spent "wasting away" on some app activities like game-playing was more than offset by productivity increases, adding up to 182 hours per year saved -- enough to run 40 marathons or circle the globe three and a half times by plane.
One user summed up the experience by saying that they felt "so lost" during the four days of disconnect, and that when allowed to return to using the apps they felt "truly at peace" again.