Messaging, social apps drive 115 percent surge in mobile app usage

Messaging and social – for now – are still the most popular mobile applications around, recording a 203 percent spike in year-over-year growth to outpace utility and productivity apps by a comfortable margin.

Mobile application usage continued to explode at a remarkable pace in 2013, increasing more than 115 percent overall, according to San Francisco-based mobile analytics firm Flurry.


Messaging apps, including social and photo sharing, saw usage triple (up 203 percent) in 2013 as users couldn't get enough of apps such as Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE.

Meanwhile, productivity and utility apps including the likes of Evernote and Quip posted 150 percent growth year over year. Even gaming apps, perhaps the personification of oversaturation over the past couple years, enjoyed a 66 percent increase in usage.

"For the past five years, we have watched mobile disrupt every industry, in every country, and continue to break its own records year after year," Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf wrote in a blog post. "What is surprising, however, is that the rate of growth (of messaging and social apps) dramatically outpaced other popular categories. This type of growth could explain the high valuation Facebook has allegedly put on SnapChat, or Facebook’s rush to add direct messaging in Instagram, an app frequented by teens."

Flurry Analytics defines app use as a consumer launching an app and recording a session. It said that on Dec. 31 at 11:59 pm, it tracked a record 4.7 billion app sessions in a single day, bringing the total number of mobile app sessions for the year to just north of 1.12 trillion sessions.

"2014 will be a crucial year for these applications and will determine whether they will remain independent, but highly frequented applications, or become killer mobile platforms and distribution channels,"Khalaf added.