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App engagement is up but it’s still a game for the fortunate few




What time is it? It’s digital time. (Insert snappy dance music here.)

Here in the US we do love our internet connection. Between desktop, laptops, tablets and smartphones, digital time spent rose 24% in just the past year. The real star of the show is Mr. Mobile App. He’s so popular, comScore wrote a whole report about him.

Look at his meteoric rise over the past year. He basically swapped places with the desktop and is now responsible for 52% of digital time spent.

Comscore Digital Time 2014That means the app business must be booming, right? Well, yes and no.

The Chosen Few

iTunes and Android users both have around 1.2 million apps to choose from. That’s insane. Now, let’s be honest, a large number of apps no longer work, never worked or simply didn’t deserve to be called an app in the first place. But that still leaves a huge collection of apps that are fun, helpful, engaging, addictive and totally worth the little amount you paid for them.

comScore says that 57% of smartphone owners and 26% of tablet owners use at least one app every day. I’m part of that tablet percentage. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t use either YouTube, Podcasts or my eBay app. I’d guess that on average, I use three tablet apps a day. With my smartphone, it’s probably more like three a week.

Here’s the issue. As much as we love our apps, we’re attached to the ones we have so we’re not really in the market for more. comScore’s report says 65.5% of smartphone users download ZERO apps per month. 8.9% download 2 apps a month and it drops off considerably from there.

It gets more interesting:

Comscore Time on AppsApp users spend 42% of their time on only 1 app! That’s bad news for marketers. . . unless, of course, you happen to have ads on that one, really popular app.

The type of app that comes out on top varies if you’re on an iPhone or Android phone (believe it or not.) iPhone users spend more time on News, Radio, Photo and Social Networking apps. Android users lean toward Search, Email and Games.

Across the board, Social Networking, Games and Radio apps account for more than 50% of the time spent.

Apps with the most unique visitors? (Unique meaning not a duplicate, not unique as in unusual.) You can probably guess them; Facebook, YouTube, Google Play, Google Search and Pandora Radio. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and eBay also show up in the top 25.

What does this mean for marketers? It means that you pretty much have to do business with the big boys if you want to reach a mobile audience. And with mobile driving an increasingly large portion of all digital traffic we have no choice but to make it work.

You can download the full comScore U.S. Mobile App Report for free on their website.