Just from looking around, everyone can tell that smartphones are more popular than ever before. But it’s still impressive to consider the numbers – according to Nielsen, more than half of all U.S. mobile subscribers opted for a smartphone, up from 44 percent a year ago, and the trend continues to grow.

Less obviously, smartphone owners are each downloading more apps compared with a year ago. Nielsen reports that 88 percent of smartphone owners have downloaded an app in the past 30 days. The average device now has 41 apps, a 28 percent jump from the 32 app average of a year ago.

Those additional downloads have added diversity to how much time people spend with any particular app. Last year the top 50 apps accounted for 74 percent of usage time, but the plethora of choices has led to the top 50 losing some of those minutes to where they now claim just 58 percent.

Even so, the five most popular apps remain unchanged: Facebook, YouTube, Android Market, Google Search and Gmail. The overall popularity of the Android Market app is interesting, since it’s irrelevant to iPhone users.

Furthermore, smartphone owners spend a mere 2 minutes more on apps each day than in 2011, up to 39 minutes in 2012.

Those who realize that this information affects their business should remember that Digital Media Wire is producing the first annual Mobile & Social Entertainment Summit at DMCE on June 29, as part of CE Week in New York City.

Related links:

Nielsen – State of the Appnation blog post

Mobile & Social Entertainment Summit at DMCE – official site

Photo by Flickr user Phil Campbell, used under Creative Commons license