- Mobile usage has hit critical mass.
- Social and daily habit apps dominated time spent on mobile in 2016.
- Phablets captured 41% of market share.
- The decelerating rate of growth could signal market maturity, saturation or simply the end of the app gold rush.
Flurry Analytics, part of the Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite, has released its annual global mobile and application usage study. In its eighth year, the study offers insights on global mobile app usage and trends from the last year on over 2.1 billion smart devices and 3.2 trillion sessions, and shows a new trend towards cannibalisation within the mobile app category, as opposed to taking share from web or television channels.
Throughout 2016, which was also the last year of the first decade for mobile apps, the industry managed another 365 days of growth.
|Messaging and social apps were king, followed closely by sports apps.|
“Over the last year, the Flurry footprint grew to track more than 940,000 applications, across 2.1 billion devices, in 3.2 trillion sessions. In this context, we define app usage as a user opening an app and recording what we call a session, as well as the amount of time spent in the application.” said Simon Khalaf, SVP, Yahoo. “Compared to the year prior, overall app usage grew by 11% and time-spent in apps grew by 69%. In previous years, we saw all app categories growing in tandem; however, this year the story is different.
"After shifting the web and television to the rearview mirror, mobile apps started eating their own, with session and time-spent growth in some app categories occurring at the expense of others. While Messaging and Social applications drove year-over-year session growth at 44%, the Personalization category gave up a staggering 46% in session usage. This steep decline in usage can be attributed to diminishing value for users of these products.”
|Time spent on mobile apps grew by 69% YoY.|
Time spent in the Social and Messaging apps category grew by 394% over the last year, proving to be the driver that helped mobile achieve its year-over-year time-spent growth of 69%. This is a result of consumers using their social and messaging apps as their voice and video calling utilities, as well as the phenomenon that Flurry Analytics calls 'communitainment', communication for the sole purpose of entertainment.
Business and Finance (up 43% in time-spent) and Sports (up 25% in time-spent) categories were immune to growth decay because they are intrinsically centred around mobile activities and rely on real-time data. Flurry Analytics anticipates further growth in these categories as people shift daily habits away from traditional media channels, i.e., watching live sports, market reports and the morning news on their TVs, to the apps on their phones.
Gaming, which was formerly the darling of the mobile industry, saw time-spent decline by 4% year-over-year. Users are increasingly comfortable paying their way through games, with the mobile gaming industry seeing a strong increase in revenues according to Apple’s latest App Store report. Additionally, gaming remains a hit-driven industry. This year’s first “hit”, Pokemon Go, faded relatively fast as consumers lost interest in the game, only returning for marquee holiday events from October to December, for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas respectively. Another notable hit, Super Mario Run, was released too late in the year to make a difference for the overall engagement numbers.
|Phablets, in green, are steadily taking share in the form factor game.|
“As the iPhone celebrates its first decade, the mobile industry has grown into a dog-eat-dog world. The decelerating rate of growth could signal market maturity, saturation or simply the end of the app gold rush. But let us put things in perspective. The gold rush in California ended in 1855. A lot of wealth has been generated since then. We are excited to see what app developers do in the next decade and which industry they chose to disrupt, again. Whatever it is, we will be by their side, providing a bit more than picks and shovels.” added Khalaf.