The growing ubiquity of smartphones in the US is helping to drive the surge in app downloads, but as Nielsen reports the average number of apps per device has also increased significantly over the past year.

The data measurement and research company notes that this time last year, 38% of US mobile subscribers had a smartphone, whereas that figure sits at 50% today. And Nielsen says that Android and iOS users accounted for 88% of people who downloaded an app in the past 30 days.

Apps hungry

Interestingly, however, in the past twelve months the average number of apps per smartphone has risen to 41 from 32, representing a 28% rise. The rise in app installations per device corresponds with the amount of time people are spending on apps vs. perusing the mobile Web, with Nielsen reporting that users are consuming 8% more time on native Android and iOS applications than this time last year.

AppNation 520x374 Nielsen: US smartphones have an average of 41 apps installed, up from 32 last year

While Facebook is the most popular app across iOS and Android, you probably won’t be surprised either to learn that the next four are the usual Google-centric suspects – YouTube, Google Play (though that probably shouldn’t count…), Google Search, and Gmail.

So, why are people downloading more apps to their smartphone? Well, there are more apps than ever being launched for starters. But over and above this, it seems that apps are simply becoming so ingrained in our lives, that we expect there to be an app for everything. And where there is a demand for something, supply is normally never too far behind.

That said, even where you wouldn’t think there is a significant demand for something, interest can grow into the stratosphere, seemingly from nowhere. Who would’ve thought a retro photo app would exit for $1bn?

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for more apps to add to your 41 (give or take…), you may want to check out our Apps channel.