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First and 20: The Most Popular iPhone Apps May Surprise You

By Jason Grigsby

Published on December 9th, 2009


First & 20 is web site about iPhone applications describes itself as a “collection of Home screens of some of the best and brightest developers, designers and tech writers.”

First and 20 Home Page

The name comes from the fact that you can only have 20 applications on the iPhone’s Home (or first) screen.

To date, the site showcases 35 home screens from various luminaries. The site also lists the most popular applications as:

Unfortunately, First and 20 was wrong. These are not the most common applications on these 35 home screens.

Here is my count based on reviewing the 35 home screens. I gave extra credit for applications that were listed in the dock because they remain visible on every screen—not just the home screen.

Home Screen Dock Home % Dock %
Phone 35 33 100% 94%
Mail 35 28 100% 80%
Safari 35 25 100% 71%
Messages 34 13 97% 37%
Calendar 33 1 94% 3%
Camera 33 1 94% 3%
iPod 32 23 91% 66%
Maps 30 1 86% 3%
Settings 28 1 80% 3%
Clock 27 77%
Photos 25 71%
Weather 23 66%
Tweetie 21 5 60% 14%
Notes 20 57%
App Store 12 34%
Things 11 31%
Facebook 10 1 29% 3%
Birdfeed 9 3 26% 9%
Calculator 9 26%
Instapaper 8 23%

The most popular applications are Phone, Mail and Safari. These are the only three applications that are on all 35 home screens.

Looking at the table now, it seems obvious that these applications would be the most popular applications. Of course people want to make phone calls, send email, and browse the web.

But as I mentioned in a previous post, because of the focus on the the iPhone and the iPhone App Store, massive changes are happening right in front of everyone’s noses and most people are missing them.

The number of articles talking about App Stores and strike-it-rich application stories vastly outnumber those talking about the explosive growth of the mobile web.

Consequently, many businesses are focused on how their going to build an iPhone application and missing the fact that those same iPhone owners are already probably trying to access their web site on their mobile phone and failing.

Should it be surprising that the most popular applications on the iPhone are Phone, Mail and Safari? No, but if you believe what you read in the media these days, these applications are underdogs when competing against the explosion of apps.

Making calls. Sending email. Browsing the web. There are apps for that too.