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What a difference a year makes: smartphone users dominate the market

By Aldo Panessidi

What a difference a year makes: smartphone users dominate the market

According to a report released by Nielsen, this is the first time that more than half of all mobile customers in the U.S. own a smartphone. That's up a whopping 38% from a year ago.

With Android and iOS accounting for more than 80% of the U.S. market, smartphones are changing the way people use their handsets. Smartphone users are spending 39 minutes per day using their apps, up 10% from a year ago. The number of apps downloaded to Apple iPhone and Google Android devices grew 28% over the past year to an average of 41 apps per phone.

What a difference a year makes: smartphone users dominate the market

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A Google study also released Wednesday found that 26% of U.S. smartphone owners would rather give up their computer than their smartphone -- a sign that smartphones are truly becoming mini-PCs.

Despite the increase of apps, smartphone owners spend roughly the same amount of time using them each day:  37 minutes in 2011, compared to 39 minute in 2012.

Facebook, YouTube, Android market (now Google Play Store), Google Search and Gmail remain the top five most-used apps, according to Nielsen. That isn't particularly surprising, since all of those apps except for Facebook are pre-loaded onto most Android devices.