Have we reached mobile app saturation? The comScore Mobile App Report sheds some light on the growing trends of how users are engaging with smartphone apps. One thing is certain: Apps fuel engagement.
Here are 12 interesting trends from the report:
1. App audiences are growing, reaching more unique visitors.
2. Smartphone apps have driven the overwhelming majority of growth in digital media usage over the past 3 years.
3. Smartphone app usage time is increasing among every age group and is highest among Millennials.
4. The fastest growing apps are services related to navigation, exercising, and dating. Apps like Waze, Fitbit, Uber, Tinder, Bitmoji and Lyft had the most gains in unique visitors year over year.
5. Overall, the rate of growth is declining for smartphone apps.
6. People spend most of their time on their top few apps. This means that new apps could find it much harder to enter the market than ever before.
7. The most popular app is Facebook.
8. Entertainment and communication dominate app usage. Categories like social networking, gaming and music account for 60% of time spent on mobile apps.
9. More users are now discovering apps from websites, digital ads and traditional media ads. This highlights the fact that traditional push marketing for user acquisition is working.
10. Since 2013, time spent on mobile apps has grown 111%. The bulk of that growth happened from 2013 to 2015. Growth rates have been much weaker on mobile from 2015 to 2016, while desktop usage declined by 11%.
11. Mobile users spend a high percentage of their time on their #1 most used app, and about 9 out of 10 minutes within their Top 5.
12. Mobile usage lives and dies by the success of apps. Categories with strong app usage are more likely to shift from desktop to mobile.
As marketers, this report may challenge the way we think about apps. Just like when companies in the 90’s realized they needed to launch a website, the current trend is to also have an app. But, is it really a necessity for your business? Will your app increase engagement and sales? Does it make sense for your brand in a market of increasing app saturation? Do you have a budget to advertise the app?
Results are demonstrating that users are spending the majority of time on their top five apps and very little time on other apps. New app downloads have declined, while some app audiences are growing. These factors should create a sense of caution in marketers during the process of determining whether to create an app. How will you make sure that it’s downloaded and used? Will it provide a needed service, like Lyft or Mindbody?
It’s clear that usefulness is a major theme in app engagement, a key insight pulled from reviewing this report. The top content categories on the rise for apps are exercise, communication, navigation, games and real-world services.
I will leave you with this: How do you get app loyalty? Is it an incentive question or a relevance issue? Or a matter of advertising dollars to increase awareness? I invite you to comment on these questions or present your own. No doubt that each of us has unique business cases related to app development, promotion and usage.