Social and messaging apps dominate smartphone usage

Anne Freier | May 18, 2015

App Business

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A new report by analyst firm App Annie sheds light on the way users interact with apps and finds that social and messaging apps are at the forefront. Having analysed trends across the UK, US, Germany, Japan and South Korea, YouTube led the way in data usage. With the addition of mobile video play, Facebook followed second. Communication and social media apps account for over 50% of Android smartphone sessions. In South Korea and Germany, users are launching messaging apps more than others. The US is an exception where social media dominated ahead of messaging apps.

Communication and Social apps see strongest app session engagement

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Source: AppAnnie.com

Facebook was the top app per session user in the US and ranked second in the UK and Germany, where WhatsApp leads. Japan and South Korea also favored one-to-one communication, hinting at the growing trend of privacy online. Despite shifts in pattern from the way consumers traditionally used the internet on desktops, the Chrome browser still saw much engagement.

Messaging apps were generally favored by users

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Source: AppAnnie.com

The study also found that gaming was more popular in Asia than any of the other countries. Here, user sessions were an average three times higher than in the US. Games generate 90% of Apple and Android App Store in Japan and South Korea, in comparison to 70% in the UK and 80% in the US. Perhaps unsurprisingly give the comfort of larger screen sizes, AppAnnie found that Android game session length was 25% longer on tablets compared to smartphones.

Asian countries launched more game sessions

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Source: AppAnnie.com

Whilst most of the data provided focussed on Android, the research highlighted that messaging apps generated more active user sessions per month compared to game or music applications.

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Source: AppAnnie.com

Where games may have been expected to generate far greater app session launches, Jake Ward, Co-Founder of the Application Developers Alliance, told NewsFactor:

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“I think some may find it surprising that games did not represent a bigger block of usage in the U.S., given the popularity of and staggering revenue numbers from mobile game companies like King and SuperCell, and because it is easy to overlook the utility and ubiquity of apps like Facebook and Twitter. Short of a report citing a shrinking app market or reductions in app generated revenue, almost nothing would surprise in the current environment. The staggering revenue growth trend is remarkable, to say the least, but most indicators would point toward that type of growth for the foreseeable future.”

Ward predicts that utility and professional apps will see greater engagement in the future, as older smartphone users and a generation of ageing users turn towards these apps.