October 26, 2010 at 11:55 am

Why Are Music Apps So Popular on the iPad?

Music apps are the third most popular type of paid app on Apple’s iPad platform according to a recent Neilsen report, which found that 50 percent of iPad owners who have paid to install apps purchased a music app.

This is good news for the developers of such apps, of course, but it also means listeners who wondered whether they would ever use an iPad for music might want to think again.

Phones, MP3 players and other smaller devices have the same output jack, and they connect to the same headphones and speakers. Indeed, Neilsen concluded (.pdf) that print and video apps benefit the most from the iPad’s larger screen.

So why would so many iPad owners — who owned more connected devices than any other category tracked by the study — choose to pay for iPad music apps specifically, other than that they might have a little extra cash to burn? Apparently, the iPad’s larger screen is of some sort of musical use to iPad owners, even though the iPad doesn’t fit into your pocket.

Interactive, music creation, and music gaming apps in particular tend to do well on the iPad, and its integration with Apple AirPlay means that any iPad music app can be played over a home entertainment system through an Apple TV. When done right, it makes the iPad feels like the most luxurious remote control ever, connected to a phantom hi-fi set-up. But even when connected directly to a stereo or headphones, rather than through AirPlay, the iPad makes a great home audio player in many situations in my experience, which is backed up by this study to an extent.

Paying for an app is one thing, of course, and using it regularly — which makes you more likely to tell your friends about it, making apps like Angry Birds so popular — is another.

The study found that music apps were the second-most-accessed across both the iPad and iPhone platforms, behind only news apps and well ahead of television, books, movies, and magazines:

Neilsen counted “radio” as a separate category. If it hadn’t, music apps may have been the most commonly accessed of all types of apps.

Overall, the study found that 91 percent of iPad owners have managed to download an app to their iPads. Apparently, the rest were either content with the ones that come pre-installed, just don’t see value in adding features to their iPads, even for free, or really just need some help.

(We also have to add that Neilsen initially misreported, uncharacteristically, that a whopping one third of iPad owners had yet to download an app of any kind. It later corrected its error. In fact, only 9 percent have yet to install an app.)

Charts courtesy of Neilsen

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