Mobile App Usage To Rise, But New Apps Struggle To Find Market!

Smartphone owners do not use more number of apps; they use the same apps over and over again! The average time of app usage per person per month had increased to 30 hours and 15 minutes in Q4 2013 from 23 hours in Q4 2012, as reported by Neilson. However, the average number of apps used per month marginally increased to 26.8 in the last quarter of 2013 from 26.5 for the same period a year before. Interestingly, though the maximum app usage comes from the age-group of 18 to 24, the maximum numbers of apps are used by people in the age-group of 25 to 44. The report from Neilson is the US centric, focusing only on Android smartphones and iPhones and the insights were gathered using Mobile NetView 3.0, on-device software which was installed on more than 5000 smartphones used by adults.

Highlights of the Report

  • The average time of app usage per person per month grew by 31%.
  • Users who belong to the age group of 25 years to 44 years consume almost 30 apps per month on an average.
  • The 18 to 24 age group spends more than 37 hours per month on app usage.
  • The maximum growth in usage per person per month was witnessed by photography apps followed by entertainment category apps.
  • Consumers above the age of 55 spent more than 21 hours per month on an average of 22 apps.

“As mobile consumption habits evolve, it’s imperative that app developers continue to add functionality and robustness to their offerings. Although there does appear to be a limit to the number of apps people are willing to access on a monthly basis, they’re spending 31 percent more time than they were last year, proving that it’s the content that counts,” said Monica Bannan, vice president of product leadership at Nielsen.

No Good News for Bulk and New App Developers!

With the increasing smartphone shipments and usage, the reliance on apps is bound to increase. But the insights that Nielsen brought to light claim that though the users are spending more time on app usage, the average number of app usage is stagnating. Due to the fact that Smartphones have become an essential tool in users’ life, the selection of an app has become more precautionary. The number of downloads is increasing, but the retention rate of all apps is not so high. Users prefer to uninstall or delete the apps which fail to lure them within few hours. Few must-have apps like weather, maps, email and social media apps come pre-installed, but the new app developers have to struggle to find the new and loyal users.

mobile app usage

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play Store and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store, both, boast of more than 1 million apps, but the average number of app used per month remained almost same for the past 2 years. According to Nielsen, this indicates that there might be an upper limit as to how many apps the users can consume within a month. The apparent upper limit includes the apps that are used for short duration and ditched, like the gaming apps, while the long-term apps like the messaging, social-media apps that keep the users connected. The increasing consumption of RAM by each app is pushing smartphone to limit, which is restricting users to have more number of users.

The Middle-aged Working Group Utilizes the Maximum Apps

The young age users in the USA account for the maximum usage of apps per month with the average time of usage per month per person crossed 37 hours, while those above the age of 55 years used the apps only for 21 hours in the last quarter of 2013. The average usage time of apps decreased as the age increased, however, no such trend was visible in the number of apps usage. The desire to remain connected, updating every trivial data on social media and comparing the game scores with peers can be one reason for the high amount of app usage among the users between the age-group of 18 to 24. The 55+ age-group falls under the senior citizen category – the people who have retired from their jobs. Their app usage is mostly attributed to health & fitness activities and other entertainment acts that reduces the boredom.

mobile app usage by age

The middle-aged group from 25 to 44 utilized the maximum apps; their number of app usage reached almost 30 apps per month. The app usage of this category can be credited to the Bring Your Own Device Culture. Moreover, the majority of users from this age group belong to working professional category, who are largely engaged with other offline activities than being on smartphone. In addition to that, the people in the age group of 35-44 are reluctant to make the daily switches from apps to apps; they keep the ones they are comfortable and utilize it to the maximum.

Photography Apps Record a Growth of 131%

The app usage is increasing by leaps and bounds, year-over-year. Viewing the video and clicking selfies are increasing at a rapid pace. This is a well known fact that mobile and internet users stay connected more with images shared on social media networks or mobile messaging apps. The time spent on photography apps increased to more than one hour per month in Q4 2013 from 26 minutes in Q4 2012. However the maximum usage remained of social media apps; smartphone users accessed search portals and social media apps for nearly 11 hours in the fourth quarter of 2013 up from 8 hours 33 minutes in Q4 2012. The constantly improving mobile internet infrastructure has resulted in increased video viewing, that helped entertainment category apps to grow by 71% year-over-year in Q4 2013.

mobile app usage by category

The Nielsen data suggest app developers not to publish apps in bulk, instead focus on adding more intuitive features and functionalities to their apps. Better user-interface and greater reach can go a long way in making the apps more successful to users. Apart from focusing on making new apps, the developers can focus more on monetizing from the existing apps. Besides, the number of app usage is the highest in the middle-aged group users, therefore, developers must target the group for their new apps. Interestingly, the age group of 55+ does not shy from the smartphone and apps usage so more apps can be targeted for them.

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