US smartphone users are switching to apps rather than mobile browsers when surfing the internet, according to new research.
The study, from analytics company Flurry, indicates that US consumers’ use of mobile web sites has dropped by almost a quarter, from an average of 31 minutes daily in March 2013 to 22 minutes a year later.
That has come even as people are spending longer on their phones – up on average to 2h42m per day compared to 2h38m in March 2013 – and that they spend even longer using apps rather than the mobile web.
According to Flurry’s data, app use grew from 80% of peoples’ phone use – 2h6m daily – to 86%, or 2h19m. Mobile web use dropped from 31m to 22m, as measured for the study by another research company, ComScore.
Flurry’s data, collected from millions of users’ smartphones, shows that gaming is the biggest single category of use, with 32% of peoples’ time on average, followed by Facebook (17%). Other social messaging including Twitter comprises 11%, followed by YouTube (4%). News apps take up 3% of peoples’ time spent on the device.
In the report, Flurry commented: “Both Google and Facebook have very well established franchises on mobile, but the market is still very fragmented. In fact, Google and Facebook combined probably command less than 25% of the total time spent by the average U.S. mobile consumer. In addition the top ten franchises, according to ComScore, account for less than 40% of the time-spent. So despite massive efforts by Google and Facebook, the market still hasn’t consolidated and over the past couple of years we have seen new franchises emerge in almost every sector of mobile.”
The growing use of apps, rather than browsers, contrasts strongly with the desktop-based use of the internet, where web use is heavy and users are comparatively easily tracked.
Challenge for Google
For Google, the popularity of apps over browsers on mobiles presents a problem because in general it cannot follow users’ activity inside apps, unlike a user logged into a Google account while they use a desktop browser. The search company has begun an initiative offering links to in-app content for Android developers which it will be able to index.
However, the study also found that far more mobile advertising money is spent with it than time is spent on its products.
Flurry calculates that although people spend about 18% of smartphone time in Google properties such as YouTube or in browsers where it can show ads, it received 49% of mobile ad spending, according to eMarketer research.
By contrast Facebook receives 18% of mobile ad spending – while people spend about 17% of their time on its mobile properties.
“Other” apps are losing out, Flurry suggested: “the rest of the apps, including gaming apps, are simply not getting their fair share of advertising spent. [They] command 65% of time spent, but only receive 32% of ad revenue.”
Flurry concludes that “one thing is clear – apps have won and the mobile browser is taking a back seat. Now every company in the world including Google is adjusting to that reality.”
Read the full report here