Apps Dominate Users’ Digital Time — But Is Interest In New Apps Falling?

Smartphone apps are still the way most consumers access digital content and information, but as the mobile marketplace matures and other avenues of interactivity emerge (e.g., voice-activation) new entrants into the app landscape may face greater challenges when it comes to grabbing attention.

That’s the view from audience measurement company comScore’s 2017 Mobile App Report, which outlines the levels of app engagement across 57 pages of charts.

If you’ve ever looked at your smartphone and thought about how many of those various apps you actually use, the report’s main findings are not very surprising. But it does provide a good deal of clarity by quantifying how consumers are using apps — and the degrees of how they’re not.

For example, the big takeaway from the comScore report is that a slight majority users (51 percent) do not download any apps in a month. Meanwhile, 66 percent of users do not download any paid-apps in a given month, comScore found, suggesting more difficulty for developers who want to rely less on ad support.

Source: comScore 2017 Mobile App Report

App Overload

Mobile apps account for 57 percent of all digital media usage, and smartphone apps alone capture more than half of digital media time spent, comScore notes. The disconnect is that since apps are the avenue by which media brands, developers, and places reach consumers directly.

But just as there are only so many TV channels and programs viewers can watch, there are only so many notifications and glances mobile users can afford to devote to their apps.

As for the that 57 percent activity figure for mobile app usage, the breakdown shows has 50 percent devoted to smartphone apps, while just 7 percent accounts for tablet app use. In addition, desktop comprises for 34 percent of time with mobile web 9 percent.

But all hope isn’t lost for app developers, at least if future consumers continue their patterns. Not only are younger users skewing the curve on mobile-apps time spent (those 18-24 are spending 3 hours a day in apps, vs. 2.6 hours for 25-34, and 2.3 hours for 35-44), they’re the ones who are downloading new apps. Of those 18-34, 70 percent say they’re always looking for new apps and they’re willing to pay for them.

Source: comScore 2017 Mobile App Report

Age-Old App Usage Issues

Millennials’ app usage is particularly relevant, since they represent mobile natives that have grown up in the decade since the iPhone introduced smartphone apps. These younger consumers still have a lot of excitement for new apps, suggesting that there is still room for many new apps to experience growth.

It’s older smartphone users who do not match Millennials’ level of interest in app usage. It’s likely that they might catch up as mobility and apps becomes a more completely ingrained in the digital experience for everything from online and in-store payments to accessing financial services to shared mobility and driving.

In any case, comScore’s report does contain some interesting factoids that highlights the difference between generations. Make of this example what you will: 55+ year-olds are 5x as likely as 18-34 year-olds to only operate their smartphone with two hands.

Millennials, on the other hand (pun intended), are more likely to position apps on their phones based on “thumb reach” and are increasingly “considering this dynamic.”

In general, Millennials are more likely to engage in curation of apps by location and accessibility on their home screens, comScore finds.

“While they love social and entertainment apps, they are also extremely reliant on more functional apps,” comScore says. “They can’t live without their apps, but also show signs of app fatigue.”

The Future Of App Usage

For all the talk about Google’s attempts to build up the concept of the Physical Web, where the browser takes the place of apps in anticipating users’ needs and connecting them with the resources they want, such as a restaurant reservation or a ride-hail, apps are looking more important thank ever.

“I believe that when we think about apps, the way we consume and promote apps today, will not remain the way it happens in the future,” The LBMA’s founder and President Asif Khan told us last fall. “I believe that there’s a future where apps will still exist, but the apps will be temporal, and that the delivery of the app, the promotion of the app, will be based on the physical presence type of idea.

“Once the ‘Internet of Things world’ really takes hold, and everything becomes smart and interconnected, we’ll see buildings ‘talk’ directly to the phone. And the phone can talk to the car. And the car can talk to the building and that ‘conversation’ can connect to the billboards and everything else around the user and their devices.”

 

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