Based on the latest comScore survey, smartphones and tablets adoptions continue to grow at exceptional rates while consumers engaged with their devices more than ever before during 2013. The number of U.S. smartphone’s users grew 24 percent to 156 million owners in December 2013. While mobile usage has been growing fast, it has not come at the expense of desktop computer usage, which managed to grow by one percent.
The explosion of digital media devices is enabling content consumption on a scale never seen before, which promises new opportunities for those who are adept at navigating this new terrain. The extraordinary challenges of a fragmented digital media landscape (multi channel, social media, video, advertising, search engines, e-commerce) have created a premium for the ability to solve increasingly complex problems; fortunately, the evolution in technology infrastructure, big data and marketing measurement systems promise to help realize the potential of the digital age.
Smartphones have quickly emerged as the primary content channel for internet consumption, overtaking time spent on desktop computers in 2013. The convenience and constant accessibility of high-quality internet access available within arm’s reach of the consumer has proved to be a compelling value proposition. On smartphones the access method of choice is apps, which accounted for 85 percent of internet time spent on phones in 2013, easily eclipsing usage via mobile browser. More than one third of all U.S. downloads at least one app per month.
A majority of mobile app engagement comes from only a select few categories, with Social Networking, Games and Radio contributing nearly half of the total time spent on mobile apps. The strength of these categories highlights that mobile devices are more heavily used for entertainment and communication than their desktop counterparts.
iPhone users spend a greater share of their app time consuming media, with General News, Radio, Photos, Social Networking and Weather ranking as the highest indexing categories on Apple’s iOS Smartphone platform. In contrast, Android phone users spend a greater share of their time in the Search and Email categories due to the strong native presence of Google Search and Gmail on the platform.
Consumers use different devices depending on the digital task they are trying to accomplish, the type of media content they seek to engage with, and their physical location at the time of consumption. Some categories such as Radio, Maps and Instant Messengers achieve much higher reach on mobile, while others such as Search and News reach a greater percentage of the audience on desktop.
The ranking of top apps is dominated by app constellations of some of the largest digital media brands; specifically, Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay.
Across all age segments, the most time is spent on leisure-oriented apps in the Social Networking, Entertainment and Messaging categories. The younger the age segment the higher the concentration of this activity, while older age segments also allocate their time to more functional apps, such as Mail and Maps, in addition to Games
Facebook led the smartphone market as the most used app, both in terms of average audience and average time spent, throughout the duration of 2013. Google boasted the next three apps in terms of average audience – Google Play, Google Search and YouTube – and five of the top ten.