Mobile rules in the US now too

By Anne Collier

It’s now clear that, where Americans’ use of digital media is concerned, mobile rules. “The days of desktop dominance are over,” declares top digital market researcher comScore in its latest mobile app report. Smartphones and tablets represent 60% of Americans’ digital media time, and “the fuel driving mobile’s relentless growth is primarily app usage, which alone makes up a majority of total digital media engagement at 52%,” comScore adds. And the amount of time Americans spend in apps was up 21% last month over August 2013, TechCrunch reports, citing data from mobile researcher Localytics. Apps in the categories of music (79%), health and fitness (51%), and socializing (49%) saw the biggest growth in time spent in them (part of music’s increase reflects a move away from iTunes to apps such as SoundCloud and iHeartRadio). TechCrunch also cites Nielsen data showing that, as of the last quarter of 2013, we’re spending “an average of 30 hours a month” in mobile apps and on average have 26.8 apps installed on our mobile devices.

As for specific apps’ popularity, comScore released number on that too, showing Facebook’s app as No. 1 in terms of both number of users and the time they spend in the app, reported. For the youngest age bracket comScore looked at, 18-24, the Top 5 apps are Facebook (14.8% of “market share”), Pandora (9.1%), Instagram (6.6%), YouTube (5.2%), Snapchat (3.4%) and Twitter (2.9%). For users over all, the Top 5 are Facebook followed by three Google apps (YouTube, Google Play app store, and Google Search) and then Pandora Radio.

You could say that, in terms of mobile dominance, the US is catching up with a lot of “mobile first” developing countries, where people never experienced “desktop dominance” but were and are digital media users on the mobile platform right from the start. Most of those phones aren’t smartphones – since “traditional cell phones still outnumber smartphones” – but “roughly three-in-ten or more Lebanese, Chileans, Jordanians, Chinese, Argentines, South Africans, Malaysians and Venezuelans now own a smartphone,” reported PewGlobal earlier this year citing data it gathered from two dozen “emerging and developing” countries. And GSMA, the international mobile trade group, reported this month that smartphones will account for two-thirds of the global mobile market by the end of this decade. Even now, though, regardless of whether mobile digital engagement happens on smartphones or features phones, there are similarities of use across income levels, cultures and continents. According to PewGlobal, “people around the world are using their cell phones for a variety of purposes, especially for texting and taking pictures.”

Related links

  • Facebook announced last month that it had reached the 100 million active user mark in India, 80% of those users accessing it on the mobile platform, TechCrunch reported. “That 100 million makes up 50% of all Africans connected to the Internet.” The 50% compares to 71% penetration for Facebook in North America, according to TechCrunch.
  • Check out our Parents’ Guide to Mobile Phones in English and Spanish.