The amount of time the average person spends on mobile devices is growing steadily. The app revolution is still gathering pace and apps are beginning to dominate our interactions with the Internet. Traditional browser usage appears to be in decline, especially amongst the younger generation.
At the start of the year we heard that Internet usage through mobile apps alone overtook desktop browsers in the U.S. and that’s without counting mobile browser traffic. CNN reported that taken together mobile apps (47%) and mobile browsers (8%) accounted for 55% of Internet usage. That figure may be even higher outside the U.S. because mobile devices are the primary point of access to the Internet in many other markets.
How much time are we spending on mobile devices?
Research by Nielsen suggested that the average U.S. person spends 34 hours 21 minutes on their smartphone each month, while the average U.K. person spends 41 hours 42 minutes per month. Those usage statistics go even higher if we drill down into the younger generation.
A recent study entitled “The invisible addiction: Cell-phone activities and addiction among male and female college students” found that female college students spend a staggering average of 10 hours per day using their smartphones, compared to 8 hours for male students.
A much wider study of 24,000 18 – 34 year-olds or “Millennials” in the U.S. picked up by The Wall Street Journal found that 77% owned a smartphone and they spent an average 14.5 hours a week on it.
Part of the reason for this is the ever expanding list of smartphone features. They are used as cameras, gaming devices, portable TVs, and radios, we use them for navigation, we read on them, we shop, and of course we communicate.
What are we spending time on?
For all the myriad potential uses there are a handful of extremely dominant categories and a handful of extremely dominant apps within them. Flurry revealed that for U.S. consumers the total time spent online was split 80% for apps and 20% for mobile browser in 2013 and that has shifted to 86% and 14% respectively in 2014. The biggest single category is gaming with a commanding 32%, followed by social and messaging at 28%, and entertainment at 8%.
The chart also shows the incredible dominance of Facebook within the social category with 17% of all the time spent on iOS and Android devices in apps. The average total time spent on a mobile device for U.S. consumers came out at 2 hours and 42 minutes per day. Only 22 minutes of that time is spent in the browser.
In general terms mobile apps appear to be completely dominant and it makes sense to focus on an app strategy rather than a mobile website, but the Flurry results are heavily skewed by specific categories and a handful of very popular apps, like Facebook, account for the lion’s share of that time. Most apps fail to gain traction with consumers and even many of the apps that are widely downloaded are not used more than once.
For an app to really succeed you still need a compelling reason to download it and to keep using it, but that’s a topic for another article.