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8 in 10 smartphone users download apps in Middle East


Real Opinions research results in Middle East with 2,950 respondents. To receive a copy of the full report, register at

12th June 2011, Dubai, UAE

The latest research with smartphone users in the Middle East shows the dynamic growth of smartphones and opportunities for app developers with 95% of smartphone users claiming to have apps and 82% download them at least once a month. In a typical month for these smartphone users, 6 apps are downloaded and a third of these are bought.

Although 18% prefer to pay a USD$1 starting price for apps and 13% would pay the full price with all the features and functions, the most appealing business model for 58% is one where smartphone users accept advertising in the app and they are willing to surrender their usage data.

A total of 73% of smartphone users agreed with the statement ‘I like downloading apps that make my life easier’ and this is reflected with the types of apps they are interested in. Communication apps are the most popular for 77% of smartphone users and this is in contrast to just 57% for games. However, the fuller picture is revealed as the popularity of games increases to 69% for full time students and those unemployed. Even 47% of senior officials and managers also find games appealing, but they in particular are more likely to prefer business (60%) and banking/finance apps (56%).

The research was conducted by the Dubai based market research company Real Opinions across the Middle East and sponsored by Research in Motion leading up to the conference ‘Planet of the Apps Arabia’. Dan Healy, CEO of Real Opinions commented,

“We have been witnessing the dramatic evolution of the industry and lack of information available on smartphone users regionally. Together with insight from David Ashford, the Managing Director of ‘AppsArabia’, and the integral support of ‘Research In Motion’ to make this a reality, we conducted this research to help fill some of these information gaps. We hope this will both encourage more investment in the industry regionally and helps more app developers to be successful.”

The potential opportunities for smartphones and app developers is amplified with half of those that don’t have a smartphone expecting to get one within the next 12 months and 7 in 10 of those that do have a smartphone intend to upgrade in the same time period.

4 in 10 of smartphone users are professionals, senior management or officials and 16% are full-time students. The growth of 1 in 5 first time smartphone users is expected to come from full-time students.

AppsArabia’s David Ashford added,

“While there is consumer demand for regional apps, the main challenge has been the willingness of consumers to pay for apps and the options for method of payment. This research shows that users don’t mind in-app ads if the app is free to download and use. But this often isn’t enough of a revenue stream for publishers so entrepreneurs are exploring other ways to combat piracy, such as in-app purchases and try-before-you-buy.”

About the Research
The research was conducted online survey using the Real Opinions online panel throughout the Middle East for 1 week from 6th to 13th April 2011. It was cconducted in both English (23%) & Arabic (77%) with n=2,950 respondents.

About Real Opinions
Real Opinions is a full-service market research company, specialising in online media, with global and Middle East research expertise and best practice. Based in Dubai with consultants in London and Singapore, Real Opinions has proven ability to help strategically guide organisations with communication, insight and assess the effectiveness of campaigns.

Real Opinions is an accredited member of ESOMAR, an international organisation for market research. For more information visit

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