Mobile usage trumps desktop usage, but we’re only using a handful of apps

August 22, 2014
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It’s 2014 and most of us have traded our focus away from the PC and towards mobile devices. In the latest report from ComScore, we learn that the majority of all digital media time now occurs on mobile apps, with desktop taking a backseat.

Of course, we all saw this shift coming, as more folks having been purchasing smartphones and tablets over the last few years. In March of 2013, the desktop was still the primary source of our digital life, however, with the average user spending 53 percent of their time on a computer and only 47 percent of the time on mobile. Now mobile devices take up 60 percent of our time, with the desktop dropping down to just 40 percent. What a difference a year makes.

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It probably won’t surprise you that most of us spend the majority of our smartphone time using apps as opposed to the mobile browser. But what might shock you is that Comscore’s data indicates that most of us are only using a handful of apps, with only 35% of smartphone users downloading any apps on an average month. This means that in a world where there are well over a million apps to choose from, most of us are simply sticking to a few ‘favorite’ apps and only downloading new ones on a rare occasion.

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Further expanding on this notion, Comscore reveals that while 57 percent of smartphone users access apps every single day and 26% of tablet users do the same, 42% of this app time is spent with a user’s single most used app. In fact, nearly three out of four minutes of app usage involves one of the user’s top 4 apps.

As for what kind of apps people are using, Comscore reports that social networking and gaming lead the pack with 25% and 16% of activity respectively. As you can imagine, some of the most popular apps include Facebook, YouTube, Google Play, Google Search, Pandora and Google Maps.

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The Comscore report also delves into various demographics dealing with age, platform of choice, income and so forth. For a more detailed look, you can request a copy of the report directly from ComScore.

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So what’s the big takeaway here?

The biggest hitters within the report center around the fact that PC usage is continuing to decline, and mobile app usage is on the rise, even though most of us aren’t downloading that many apps.

In an age where we have so many options, why aren’t folks discovering more apps? It could be that we simply know what we want, and therefore we don’t deviate from our preferred apps all that often. It’s also possible that, with so many choices, the average consumer finds it hard to discover new apps and instead relies on “top app” lists within Google Play and other storefronts as opposed to diving in and exploring. If this is the case, that means if Google, Apple and other store owners want to see more folks downloading apps, they’ll need to think of creative ways to improve app discovery.

Of course, just because most of us aren’t regularly trying out new apps, doesn’t mean app usage is down. As smartphone and tablet sales continue to increase, there’s a large pool of app users out there and as the number of users increase, opportunities only get better for app developers. In fact, app download numbers are at an all time high, even if the average user doesn’t download that many apps after initial setup of their mobile device.

What do you think, would you download more apps if there were ‘smarter’ app discovery and suggestion systems built into stores like Google Play? How many apps do you download each month on average?

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