Mobile App Usage Increases In 2014, As Mobile Web Surfing Declines

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New data from app analytics provider Flurry released today states that native app usage on smartphones is continuing to grow at the expense of the mobile web. The company claims that users are now spending 2 hours and 42 minutes per day on mobile devices as of March 2014, up from 2 hours, 38 minutes as of a year ago. Meanwhile, mobile app usage accounts for 2 hours and 19 minutes of that time spent, while mobile web usage has dropped from 20% of the U.S. consumer’s time in 2013 to just 14% – or 22 minutes per day – as of last month. Says Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf, the changes indicate that the mobile browser has become just “a single application swimming in a sea of apps.”

Flurry, which gathers its data from its network of over 450,000 mobile applications installed on over 1.3 billion devices worldwide, clarified to us that it also uses comScore to determine its figures on mobile browser usage and mobile applications. Meanwhile, it uses NetMarketShare for the distribution of the browser usage. In other words, be aware that company is combining data from different sources with different methodologies here, so take that as you may.

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In the new report, Flurry also examined which app categories remained most popular year-over-year, and found that gaming still dominates mobile usage with 32% of time spent on iOS and Android devices (same as last year), while Facebook remained a strong second with 17% of time spent on mobile.

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However, it’s interesting to note that Facebook exhibited a slight decline year-over-year, going from 18% of time spent in 2013 to the 17% now reported, (which includes Instagram), says Flurry. Though it’s still a lead by a wide margin in terms of time spent, even that slight decline can help explain why Facebook would spend big to expand its user base and market share elsewhere on mobile, the way it did via the WhatsApp acquisition.

Facebook, combined with Twitter (1.5%) and Social Messaging apps (9.5%) grew to 28% of time spent on mobile, up from 24% last year, indicating the broader shift from socializing on Facebook to sharing within smaller, more private messaging applications.

Meanwhile, new social category YouTube accounted for 4% of time spent. Entertainment (including YouTube) and Utility apps saw their shares remain the same at 8% each, year-over-year, while productivity apps doubled their share from 2% to 4%.

Flurry also notes that, combined, Google and Facebook likely command less than 25% of the total time the average U.S. consumer spends on mobile, while the top ten franchises according to comScore, account for less than 40% of the time spent.

Says Khalaf, “despite massive efforts by Google and Facebook, the market hasn’t consolidated and over the past couple of years, we have seen new franchises emerge in almost every sector of mobile.” These include apps like Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp (acquired by Facebook), Waze (acquired by Google), Spotify and more, which on their own account for a percentage or two of the time spent on mobile.

In terms of apps that lost share from 2013 to 2014, the most notable example is Safari, which dropped from 12% to 5%. Non-Google, non-Apple browser dropped from 4% to 2%. Also on the decline was the “Other” category of apps, which went from 6% to 3% – but as a grouping of all the leftovers that didn’t fit into one of the main categories cited here, that doesn’t mean as much.

Also worth noting, time spent in native apps, 2 hours and 19 minutes this year is only up 12 minutes per day (or 9.5%) from last year – an increase that’s not as notable as the previous five years, the report found, which seems to point to a sort of leveling off in terms of how much time users have to spend on devices, and in apps.

Finally, Flurry reviewed mobile advertising, citing data from eMarketer that said Facebook earned 17.5% of the overall mobile ad revenues, which is in line with their share of time spent on mobile, while Google (including YouTube) earned 49.3%, or much more than their time spent. Non-Google, non-Facebook apps accounted for 65.3% of time spent but only saw 32% of ad revenues.

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“This represents a massive opportunity for applications, including gaming apps to monetize through advertising,” says Khalaf.

Image: Shutterstock/PureSolution