Popularity of mobile web diminishes as native apps capture more usage

Flurry has taken a look at the popularity of the mobile web versus native apps – and the mobile web is losing out steadily to native apps.

The company’s blog shares the freshest-of-fresh data, which was compiled from January to March 2014. The data is unequivocal: apps are winning in a huge way, and advertisers are still mismatching spend to account for this popularity.

Time spent on a mobile device by the average US consumer has risen to 2 hrs and 42 minutes per day from 2 hrs and 38 minutes per day in March of 2013. Apps continued to cement their lead, and commanded 86% of the average US mobile consumer’s time, or 2 hrs and 19 minutes per day.

Time spent on the mobile web continued to decline and averaged just 14% of the US mobile consumer’s time, or 22 minutes per day.

Apps are simply trouncing the competition, which is something that some would not have predicted a few years ago when apps were seen mostly as too limiting.

The argument against apps is basically that the user must download and then open a specific app, and all activity must remain in that closed ecosystem. The promise of the mobile web is that it’s responsive, and does not require any work on the user’s part besides typing in the web address.

Here’s a visual of the data according to Flurry, showing the one year drop of 6% in time spent on mobile web:

Flurry Analytics

When broken down into categories of time spent, gaming continues to be the most widely used application for smartphones.

When compared to last year, gaming time spent was static, while social and messaging apps like Facebook saw an increase of 4% and productivity apps doubled from 2% to 4%.

Category usage on smartphones 2013

The overall fragmentation of attention represented by this graphic is still a reality faced by marketers as a whole – there’s so much competing for attention that it can be hard to decide where to deploy marketing dollars.

Travel marketers must look carefully at that time spent on Facebook (including Instagram). Second only to gaming, US smartphone users are spending a lot of time on the platform. With time spent every day on apps coming in at 2 hours 19 minutes, that’s nearly 24 minutes spent on Facebook each day by the average American consumer.

There’s simply no other platform that guarantees such engagement and daily eyeballs on mobile – according to these statistics, Twitter only ekes out 1.5%/2 minutes of daily usage.

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp will allow it to build share in the social messaging category, while now moving on to the next platform – virtual reality. With the acquisiton of virtual reality headset maker Occulus, Zuckerberg said the company feels more comfortable with its mobile positioning and can now “start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.”

This only means that Facebook will continue pushing the platform boundaries, theoretically delivering a continued return on investment for those that invest marketing dollars to capture mindshare on the platform. Now that the Facebook ecosystem has the potential to move to an on-the-head, in-your-face existence, there’s a whole new world emerging in the next 5 years.

Finally, the Flurry team pulls in eMarketer data to show just how mismatched advertisers’ deployment of advertising is.

Mobile ad spend

While Google only sees 18% of the usage, it enjoys 49% of the advertising. Facebook is pretty evenly matched, likely due to the cross-platform ease-of-use of its advertising product.

Another opportunity exists in advertising across other apps not in the largest categories – of course, fragmentation creates a challenge for straightforward, effective deployment, but also could reveal some riches in the process.

NB: Mobile phone image courtesy Shutterstock.

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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick helps brands blog better at Ghost Works, a boutique blog management service. Nick was previously the Director of Content for tnooz, where he oversaw the editorial and commercial content as well as producing/hosting tnoozLIVE.



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  1. Mark Mattson

    This study is irrelevant to travel technology and destination marketing. What is relevant is responsive web design (RWD)—an approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices. Native apps don’t do this. We have seen five years of miniaturizing the destination experience by shrinking desktop content to tablet and mobile sizes using web technology. Within two years, 75% of all HDTV sales will be smart—internet ready. That will result in a swing from miniaturization toward maximization. The future travel planner and virtual trekker will make their decisions from comfy chairs in their homes and/or hotel rooms using technologies empowered by the modern web on 65 inch displays. These experiences will be large, dynamic, sizzling, compelling and relevant to all views.

  2. Roberto Da Re

    Interesting data .. this actually shows to me that the market share for Apps when it comes to “e-commerce apps” is probably around 3% (Category “others” in the chart) probably heavily dominated by Amazon and eBay apps .. which means the other e-commerce activity falls into the “Browsers” activity, which is the “mobile web”.
    My conclusion based on this data then is that actually most of the activity in “travel e-commerce” takes place via the mobile web/browsers.

    Anybody agree or disagree with my conclusions ?

  3. Bob

    This is interesting, but how does usage in the travel vertical compare? Gaming and Facebook represent 50% of the time spent on a mobile device. This is obviously making everything else relatively insignificant. If you take out these apps and social media/You Tube, mobile web has close to 50% share. It would be interesting to see the split between web and native for travel services ONLY, and the trend here.


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