EMarketer: Mobile apps account for 20% of digital media time
- American adults will spend 2 hours and 25 minutes daily on mobile apps this year on average, an increase of 10.3% from last year and slightly above an earlier projection, according to a new report from eMarketer. Mobile apps will account for nearly 20% of American’s total digital media time this year.
- The number of unique apps smartphone users occupy themselves with per month is expected to dip to 20.7 this year from 21 in 2016. In 2019, Americans will check out 20.1 apps at least once a month. App usage is contained largely in social media networks, and Google and utilitarian apps, a category that covers maps and messaging apps.
- When they’re using mobile apps, Americans mostly listen to digital audio, social network, play games, watch videos and message. The time Americans spend on those activities is poised to rise even further. In 2018, Americans are anticipated to spend 2 hours and 35 minutes on mobile apps, and that figure will clock in at 2 hours and 43 minutes in 2019.
Mobile apps — which typically offer sleek user experiences — dominate time spent on mobile and, specifically, are responsible for 85% of it, per eMarketer. Time spent on a mobile browser will remain flat at 26 minutes daily this year.
The gradual consolidation of the app market has come as major app publishers have incorporated a plethora of functionalities on their apps, per Jaimie Chung, forecasting analyst at eMarketer. Social media networks like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are rapidly spreading their tentacles into an array of features as are messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and iMessage, giving additional reasons for Americans to prolong visits to their favorite apps.
EMarketer singled out Facebook as one of the apps Americans lollygag on. Mobile time spent on Facebook is anticipated to rise 1 minute this year to 17 minutes and climb again another 2 minutes next year, while Facebook surfing on desktops is predicted to hold steady at 6 minutes. Video viewership, especially viewership of live video, is fueling Facebook minutes.
The trends highlighted in the eMarketer study underscore the challenges marketers face finding success with their own native apps, which can require significant resources to build and maintain. Those who have not done so already could end up missing the boat as people become increasingly dependent on their smartphones’ mobile apps, particularly on a handful of the biggest apps. Still, some brands are continuing to build apps despite the challenges in getting consumers to download and use them, recognizing that if they do find success, apps are a great way to build loyalty and gather customer insights. For example, Finish Line recently revamped its app with unique features in an attempt to gain a competitive edge.
The shift to greater mobile app screen time on fewer apps doesn’t bode well for small app developers, growth rates in app downloads overall and mobile web browsing. And it may not bode well for television, although Americans are still spending more than twice as much time watching television as they are on mobile apps.