The Mobile Apps for Marketing study, from Forrester Research, suggested that only 43% of US mobile users have any apps on their phones. The same is true for just 9% of tablet users.
Gen Y and Gen X form the majority of current app users, with around a third aged 23 to 31 and another third of those aged 32 to 45. This compares with just 19% of 'older boomers', those aged 56 to 66, who use apps.
"The stickiness of a mobile app is good for someone with deep affinity with the brand, and an ongoing relationship," Daniel Blackburn, mobile practice lead at marketing agency Rosetta, told Forrester.
Further differences emerge when operating systems are considered. Users of Apple's iPhone tend to be younger and wealthier, with an average annual household income of $105,200.
Android, Blackberry and Windows users are slightly older and have lower incomes, with average earnings of $89,300, $95,400 and $81,100 respectively.
Users primarily find out about apps from friends and family, 59% in the case of tablet owners and 50% for phone owners.
Recommendations in app stores are also important, with 49% of tablet owners taking this route and 35% of phone owners. Being top in a particular category is an imperative for 44% of tablet owners but just 32% of phone owners.
For many people, the apps they use come preinstalled. In all, this is true of 50% of tablet owners and 60% of smartphone owners.
In analysis accompanying the new figures, Forrester suggested a four-point framework developers should follow to help ensure an app isn't used once and then deleted by the user.
Data from MediaPost/Forrester; additional content by Warc staff