Smartphone apps now account for half the time Americans spend online

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Here’s a stat that’s sure to worry Google: smartphone applications now account for half the time that U.S. users spend online, up from 41 percent back in July 2014, according to a new report from comScore. And when you add tablet applications into the mix, that figure rises to nearly 60 percent.

The new milestone was achieved this July, the report says, and is a testament to our increasing reliance on native mobile applications to deliver us the information we need, as well as the entertainment and distractions we crave – things we used to turn to the web for, in previous years.

This shift towards apps is exactly why Google has been working to integrate the “web of apps” into its search engine, and to make surfacing the information hidden in apps something its Google Search app is capable of handling.


Our app usage has grown not only because of the ubiquity of smartphones, but also other factors – like faster speeds provided by 4G LTE networks, and smartphones with larger screens that make sitting at a desktop less of a necessity. In addition, the app stores have grown to house millions of downloads – so there really is an app for just about anything you need.


In terms of which apps are most popular, a prior comScore report offers some insight.

The list of top apps by unique visitors is dominated today by the big players, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Pandora, Snapchat and newcomer Pokémon Go.

The apps with the most usage, in order, are: Facebook, Messenger, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, Gmail, Pandora, Instagram, Amazon mobile, Apple Music, Apple Maps, Pokémon Go, Snapchat, and Pinterest.


What’s surprising about this list is Pokémon’s ranking – something that proves there’s still room for new apps to become giants in what’s now a saturated market. ComScore says that, for as long as it has been measuring digital audiences, there isn’t even a remotely comparable instance of a website or app capturing as large an audience as Pokémon Go did in such a short time.

The closest example was Walmart’s app when it debuted its Savings Catcher, which grew by 4 million users to 24 million over the course of 4 months.

Pokémon Go, however, became the 13th largest mobile app with 55 million unique users (U.S.) across smartphones and tablets in its first month – or more than 30 percent of the total mobile population. It also ranked 4th in total time spent in app, behind Facebook, Pandora and YouTube. Over a third of its users visited the app daily, too.

The latest report from Sensor Tower indicates that Pokémon Go has now surpassed 180 million downloads worldwide, and the average U.S. iOS user is playing the game for 32 minutes per day. It’s also raking in over $4 million in net revenue daily.

While Pokémon may be more the exception than the rule, consumers’ app usage has been steadily climbing over the years.

This figure grew from 34 percent in 2013, to 41 percent the following year and has now reached 50 percent. In the near-term, comScore expects apps to grow beyond the 50 percent mark as well, but says that both desktops and tablets will continue to maintain critical roles in consumers’ lives for the foreseeable future.

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