Two-Thirds Of All Digital Time Is Now Spent On A Mobile Device

The amount of time we spend on our smartphones is the ongoing success story of the apps economy.

A report by research and analytics company comScore said that mobile accounts for two out of every three digital media minutes, with 58% of people now spending the majority of their time on mobile apps. According to comScore’s 2016 U.S Mobile App report, actual digital media time spent has grown by 53% in the last three years, much of which can be attributed to mobile apps.

Although growth has been consistent since June 2013, there are definite signs that the digital media usage time over every platform is slowing down. Year-on year growth rates from June 2013 to June 2015 were 26% and 21%, respectively. In the last year, that year-on-year growth was only 5%, the report said.

The unstoppable rise of the mobile app has coincided with a drop in desktop engagement. People are more likely to use the ubiquitous computer in their pocket to access the Internet, with total digital media time spent on desktop falling by 16% since June 2013. During that time, smartphone apps have become the prime driver of digital media usage, said comScore.

Smartphones Are The Default Standard Among The Young

Over the last three years, smartphones have been responsible for 88% of all digital media engagement, the report said.

Although every part of the digital media ecosystem—tablets, desktop and smartphones—has contributed to its growth in the last three years, smartphones are the dominant force. Around 80% of all mobile usage is on smartphone apps, with 8% spent on Web apps accessed through a smartphone, said comScore report.

Smartphone apps are responsible for nearly 50% of total digital time spent and three out of every four minutes on mobile in total—an increase of 8% since June 2013.

“Smartphone apps have become the primary access vehicle to the Internet, representing half of total digital media time spent,” said the report. “They already account for the vast majority of total mobile and mobile app time spent and are gaining share among every segment of the market.”

Smartphone app usage time is highest among—surprise, surprise—younger device owners.

People aged between 18- and 24-years old spend an “exorbitant amount of time on their smartphones,” comScore said. In an average month, people will spend 73.8 hours on smartphone apps—an increase of 5.6 hours from 2013. That usage time extends to 93.5 hours for device owners aged between 18 and 24. Average monthly usage drops among older people with those aged between 35 to 44 and 45 spending 78.8 hours per month and 62.7 hours, respectively.

Smartphone app usage has increased in every age demographic in the last three years, with the greatest average monthly growth coming in the 55- to 64-years old range—a 37% increase from 40.7 hours in 2013 to 55.6 hours in 2016.

Mobile apps continue to race ahead of the mobile Web, said the report . Around 87% of time spent on mobile is on an app as opposed to the mobile Web … a 7:1 margin that has been unchanged for two years.

Tablet Engagement Is Declining

Tablet usage remains in free fall.

The report said average monthly hours per visitor spent on tablets has dropped from 29.6 hours in June 2013 to 22.6 hours in 2016. Every single age group has seemingly turned away from the truck of the mobile ecosystem, with a 35% drop in usage in people aged between 35- and 44-years old, said comScore. Large screen phones or phablets are the obvious reason for this decrease in tablet usage, although IDC has forecast that the tablet could make a comeback by 2018.

“Interestingly, the most engaged tablet users are both the youngest and oldest segments of the population,” said comScore. “18-24 year-olds make use of tablet apps for games, entertainment and school activities, while older users rely on tablets for news and reading.”

Smartphone apps are also the preferred platform for the majority of Web usage.

The level of actual usage drops in line with the age of the demographic, but it is interesting to note that desktop usage is still high among those aged over 65. Only 20% of the oldest Web users prefer smartphone apps to desktop access, compared to 62% of people aged between 18- and 24-years old, comScore said. In terms of devices, tablets are relatively popular with older people, but their influence in Web usage is on the wane.

“With desktop engagement finally in decline, it is now losing share to mobile at a rapid rate,” comScore said. “The convenience of smartphones and tablet devices, and the innovation around mobile apps have completely shifted the digital media landscape in favor of mobile.”

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David Bolton
Former ARC Writer
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