Media & Entertainment

Time Spent In Apps Up 63 Percent Over Past Two Years, But Apps Used Monthly Show Little Change


Image Credits: Jan Persiel (opens in a new window)

Today’s app stores each may host well over a million apps, but consumers only use roughly 26 or 27 of these per month, according to new data from Nielsen out today. However, the time they spend engaging with those apps is increasing – up 63 percent over the past two years, the study found.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, consumers spent 23 hours and two minutes per month engaging with apps. That climbed to 37 hours and 28 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2014.

In other words, those apps that make it into the lucky two dozen-plus per month that actually get used are likely being used fairly heavily.


This is not the first time Nielsen has suggested there’s an upper limit to how many apps consumers can use on a monthly basis. The firm reported last summer that the number of apps seeing monthly use has only slightly increased over the years. On average, consumers used 23.3 apps per month in 2011, 26.5 apps in 2012 and 26.8 apps in 2013.

The most recent numbers for Q4 2014 are broken down by gender: men use 27.2 apps per month compared with 26.3 apps per month for women. Or, on average, consumers today use 26.7 apps per month.

The data is collected with permission from U.S. smartphone users by way of a background app on Android, and on iOS, Nielsen logs data as iOS traffic is routed through a proxy. Its panel distribution is 58 percent Android and 42 percent iOS users, and is collected from a sizable group of 5,000 panelists across various demographic groups, races and ethnicities.

Another notable finding relates to how the different races and ethnicities engage with apps. The firm found that African-Americans use the most apps per month (30.3), but they’re also the most heavily engaged users, spending nearly 43 hours per month in apps. Hispanics, meanwhile, spend 41 hours and 31 minutes per month across 27.9 apps on average. Asian-Americans spend 27 hours and 14 minutes per month, while white non-Hispanic users spend 35 hours and 25 minutes per month in apps.


Nielsen says the “entertainment” category of apps is driving the most usage. However, it defines this group of apps rather broadly, saying that entertainment apps can be mobile games or even apps where users check the weather or sports scores.

That being said, this group of apps saw a 13 percent increase in unique audience year-over-year as of fourth-quarter 2014. And that audience is spending nearly three hours more on apps over the same period – up 26 percent from the prior year.

The gaming subcategory, unsurprisingly, saw the most usage, with 76 percent of entertainment apps users playing at least one game in Q4 2014, and time spent increasing by 1 hour 35 minutes per month to 10 hours 2 minutes. Music was the second most popular subcategory, followed by video and movies.


Yet, despite the growth of the app marketplaces themselves, which has introduced a ever-expanding selection of apps to choose from, app makers are still having to fight each other to be one of the small handful of apps that get used regularly. While some apps, like Facebook, are always in this short list, others, like games, are played then disposed of, freeing up space for a new title to snag a spot.

The disposable nature of gaming apps has also begun to spread to the wider App Store in recent months, where some titles – think Yo, or that brief MyIdol craze – are wildly popular for months, weeks or sometimes only days, before being forgotten on back screens.

More TechCrunch

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions