Original Research

The mobile application preferences of undergraduate university students: A longitudinal study

Andrea Potgieter
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 17, No 1 | a650 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v17i1.650 | © 2015 Andrea Potgieter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 2014 | Published: 18 September 2015

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Andrea Potgieter, Department of Information and Knowledge Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: Smartphones and similar mobile devices have changed the way individuals interact with technology and with each other. The app preferences of smartphone users are vitally important to those seeking to understand the motivation behind app downloads and usage.

Objective: The research problem of this article is centred on the preferences for smartphone apps by the growing market of smartphone users in South Africa. The study includes a demographic profile of the users to establish what attracts this market into downloading smartphone apps.

Methodology: The study employed a mono-method, quantitative methodological framework with an online survey as the data collection instrument. The survey was conducted amongst undergraduate university students in 2013 and repeated again in 2014.

Results: It was found that the ‘young adult’ demographic, of which the sample of undergraduate university students formed a part, was discerning about which apps they downloaded and that the frequency of downloads occurred less than once a month in most cases. Information and entertainment needs were amongst the top reasons users indicated as motivations for downloading apps.

Conclusion: The study’s findings confirmed that the sample had definite preferences regarding which apps the users were downloading, and these preferences depended on the needs that they wished to fulfil. The study also revealed that, even though users were aware of security threats associated with downloading apps, this knowledge did not deter them from continuing to download apps. Future research recommendations also arose from the study, giving direction to prospective studies.


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