Apps beat browser and voice in mobile device usage survey

Mobile-device users spend more time using apps than talking on the phone or browsing the Web. Messaging remains king.
Written by John Hazard, Contributor

Mobile-device users spend more time using apps than talking on the phone or browsing the Web. Messaging remains king.

Zokem, a mobile research, firm tracked 2,100 mobile users for the month of January. The results in average minutes of screen-time per month:

  • Messaging (email, text, multimedia, and instant messaging) -- 671
  • Apps (maps, gaming, entertainment, productivity, and social networking) -- 667
  • Voice -- 531
  • Web Browsing -- 422

The data is evidence that users increasingly consider the devices in their pocket a computer, not a phone, writes Rich Karpinski on ConnectPlanet.

At least part of the explanation of the strong showing of mobile apps in the study was the way the category was defined, bringing together maps, gaming, entertainment, productivity and social networking "apps" under a single umbrella.

That said, the research cements the fact that 1) smartphone users see their devices more as computers than phones, and 2) the ability to access content and services via a standalone app rather than linking to a mobile Web site holds great appeal to smartphone users.

Unless you're talking to a BlackBerry user. The numbers suggest RIM's BlackBerry remains little more than messaging device in the eyes of its users. BlackBerry users open apps 50 percent less than users of Google Android and Apple iPhone users. Android and iPhone users access an average 15 apps every month; BlackBerry users on 8, according to the New York Times.

Android is the leading smartphone platform with 29 percent of the market followed by iPhone and BlackBerry each with 27 percent.

Content and Commerce

The survey doesn't spell the irrelevance of browsing on handhelds. Content providers and commerce businesses, both of which have invested fortunes in time and treasure on app development, still reach the audience primarily through the browser, Zokem said.

News, search and commerce apps and sites receive much more usage still from mobile web browsers, with 86%, 85% and 66% of mobile web browser users using them monthly, respectively. However, only 22% of web browser users access web-based email services, and only 18% use games through a web browser. For email, native apps reach 76% of smartphone users monthly, and games reach 45%.

Those numbers look somewhat like desktop behaviors as well -- I use the Web to read, search and shop, but want my e-mail and IM on a native client.

But data points to a changing ecosystem for mobile software developers, writes Hannu Verkasalo, Zokem's CEO, in a blog on MobileApps Briefing.

Mobile apps are overtaking the mobile web, challenging many of the trends that took place in the desktop world earlier. Along with this trend towards mobile apps, actionable analytics products and data points about mobile apps become critical, and players from all parts of the ecosystem, from advertisers to platform providers, and from app developers to carriers, have to acknowledge the ongoing transformation.

It is not going to be black and white - or a case of either native apps or mobile web winning the game - as both mobile web and mobile apps will co-exist. Only one thing is for sure; mobile apps have radically disrupted how people consume content and do things in mobile.

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