Men Vs. Women Smartphone Usage Differences: Does it Affect Mobile App Development?

When Steve Jobs returned to a rotting Apple, Apple had dozens of different products targeting different segments in the market. None of them were doing to well. After he became the de facto CEO of the company in 2000, he stressed the importance of creating one awesome product instead of dissipating all the energies of the company on several below-average products and ideas. During the next few years, Apple focused on creating just one amazing product for every category – the iMac computer, iPod music player, iPhone mobile and iPad tablets.

Why am I talking about Steve Jobs and Apple in a blogpost that is purportedly about the usage difference between men and women? Its because several people in the smart mobile devices and apps market are thinking of segmenting the market from the gender perspective. One company even launched a product that was specially built for women.

What does the tablet for women have? A pink screen saver, a dumbed down interface and apps that women are supposed to like. With hindsight, it may seem like a bad idea to build such a product, but there are real differences in the way women and men use tablets and smartphones. Lets take a quick look:

Technology Adoption: Women are more open to tying out new features and adopting new mobile technology than men. They are more likely to make the most of all the features of an app, and they prefer health, social networking and lifestyle and games apps. Women are more keen on mobile gaming, while men are happier playing games on laptops, PCs or gaming consoles.

Mobile Gaming: Men have a natural predilection for war games, RPGs, shooting games and games that had long-term goals. Women seem to prefer word games, puzzles, and simpler games. But there are several games that both gender like equally, and both men and women say that they end up getting addicted games and spend too much time playing games on the mobile.

App Types: Some stereotypes are supported by the user base for apps. Catalog apps, lifestyle apps, cooking and recipe apps have a predominantly female user base. Business and productivity apps, finance apps, and sports apps have more male users. But dating apps, games, GPS, restaurant apps and several other categories of apps have almost equal number of male and female users.

What does all this mean for mobile app developers?

Statistics are interesting, but one can read too much into them. Most app owners thoroughly research their target audience before freezing their app concept. For certain, apps, if your target is predominantly female, the app offers functionalities that appeal to the audience. But that doesnt make any real effect on the kind of app you are creating.

When the first smartphone was create, Apple tried to create an intuitive device that anyone, irrespective of gender or age, could simply pick up and start using. The idea of intuitiveness is at the base of all smart mobile devices and all the apps. Your app design needs to be user-friendly, intuitive, and it must follow the best practices. There is no point in creating apps that are limited to one gender.