Airbnb Mobile Usage Soars As Its iOS App Passes 1 Million Downloads, Accounts For 26% Of All Traffic

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Airbnb is raising a whole lot of money at a big valuation, we reported yesterday, as the company continues to see hockey stick-like growth. But as quickly as its web usage is taking off, the company is seeing even faster growth among mobile users, specifically those using its mobile apps.

The company is announcing today* that the Airbnb iOS app has reached a big milestone, hitting more than 1 million times since first being launched in November 2010. In the hyper-growth mobile startup world, that might not seem like a lot of users over the span of nearly two years. But! Airbnb users aren’t just downloading that and later deleting it like oh so many others — in fact, more than half a million users updated to the latest version of the app when it was released. That means more than half of users have kept the app installed.

Airbnb is also seeing mobile drive an increasing amount of traffic from mobile users. Mobile now accounts for more than a quarter of all Airbnb traffic, which is up from about 12 percent a year ago, Airbnb mobile platform lead Andrew Vilcsak told me by phone yesterday. And more and more users are going to the native app experience, rather than using mobile web. As a result, Apple devices now account for more than half of all mobile traffic.

While the company wouldn’t break out specifics for bookings that happen on its mobile app versus its regular online channel, Vilcsak said that one of the main advantages to mobile is that it speeds up communications between hosts and guests. Rather than receiving an email notification of a new message and having to go to the Airbnb site to respond, mobile users can directly communicate with one another from inside the app, which results in messages being responded to three times faster on mobile than on the web. Airbnb says that more than half a million messages were sent via mobile apps last month.

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* It’s also released an infographic you can probably find on finer tech blogs that publish that sort of thing.