In this survey, we found that 88% of American adults use cell phones. Some 43% of these cell owners now download apps to their phones, which is a notable increase from the 31% of cell owners who said they downloaded apps in 2011. As mobile applications grow in popularity, a substantial share of consumers is taking into consideration the way apps deal with users’ personal information:
- 54% of app users have decided to not install a cell phone app once they discovered how much personal information they would need to share in order to use it
- 30% of app users have uninstalled an app that was already on their cell phone because they learned it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share
Taken together, 57% of all app users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place for similar reasons.
Interestingly, there are relatively few differences—demographic or otherwise—between app users when it comes to avoiding or uninstalling apps due to concerns about data collection or sharing. Certainly, some groups are more likely than others to use apps in the first place (these differences are illustrated in the table below), but significant differences among those who actually use apps are largely confined to the following:
- Male app users are more likely than female app users to say they have uninstalled an app because it was sharing too much of their personal information. Men and women are equally likely to avoid apps entirely based on personal privacy concerns.
- Apps users with at least some college experience are somewhat more likely than those with a high school education to choose not to install an app over privacy concerns. There are no educational differences when it comes to deleting existing apps for this reason.
Outside of these rather modest differences, the story of cell owners’ concerns about apps and their personal information is one of consistency across groups. Younger cell owners are much more likely than their elders to use apps—yet app users of all ages are equally likely to remove (or to avoid downloading) an app based on privacy concerns.
In addition, iPhone and Android owners take nearly identical steps when it comes to sharing personal information in the context of apps. Among app users, 54% of iPhone owners and 56% of Android owners have avoided an app due to concerns about access to their personal information, while 28% of iPhone owners and 32% of Android owners have uninstalled an app for that reason. In each case, these modest differences are not statistically significant.