The Decline of Mobile Web Browsing (and the Rise of App Usage)

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Did you know that 90% of mobile time is now spent on apps? Mobile web browsing is a force to be reckoned with, but it looks weak in comparison to the huge rise in app usage. Here are some interesting facts about the rise of app usage and its correlation with the decline of mobile web browsing.

The Power of Mobile Gaming


One of the biggest contributors to mobile usage is mobile gaming – the app store is now filled with mobile game success stories from big-time development studios, solo indie developers and everything in between. There’s no doubt that mobile gaming is taking up a lot of our mobile usage time and as a result, a lot less time is being spent browsing the web or doing other tasks via mobile.

According to a recent study by flurry, mobile gaming is responsible for 15% of all mobile users. This is a huge number when the same study shows that mobile web browsing is taking just 10% of overall mobile usage.

Entertainment Through Apps

Mobile gaming isn’t the biggest thing in the industry anymore. There’s no doubt that for a while, everybody was going game crazy, but a recent trend shows that entertainment through apps has now become even bigger than mobile gaming. In fact, mobile gaming has slowly seen a drop in interest as other aspects of mobile users have taken over.

With 20% of all mobile usage being entertainment through apps, it’s clear to see that media from the likes of YouTube, Netflix and others is growing even larger than mobile gaming is. Last year, the same study recorded just 8% of mobile usage in entertainment through apps so this number has now more than doubled just a year later.

Part of this trend could be due to three factors – smartphone displays are becoming larger and higher quality, more online entertainment services are being used more often than standard television and mobile carriers are now being more generous with mobile data, especially 4G.

Social Media & Instant Messaging

Would you be surprised to hear that there is yet another area of mobile usage that outshines both entertainment and mobile gaming? The one aspect that has taken the most mobile time from smartphone users for a long time now is social media and instant messaging. Facebook alone takes 19% of all usage time, whilst other messaging and social network apps are now taking 12% of usage.

Social media and instant messaging have always been big on mobile. In fact, despite the huge 240% year-on-year entertainment growth, social media and instant messaging usage were higher in 2014 than entertainment usage is now.

What is the Web Left for?

It’s interesting to take these three top mobile usage trends and plot them out against the decline of mobile web browsing. Whilst mobile gaming has taken a slow decline, it’s still taking a lot of usage time. Social media and instant messaging are still seeing growth too. With more support for instant messaging via apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Kik, it’s clear that most smartphone users don’t even need to touch the web to get in touch with friends, family or even business contacts.

Entertainment through apps has also increased significantly, but perhaps a lot of this is to do with the fact that mobile apps are becoming so much more reliable than viewing entertainment via a web page. Take the YouTube app for example – to begin with, the YouTube app had some issues that made viewing content from a browser more convenient, but in 2015 there’s no denying that the user experience on the YouTube app is many times better than the mobile web version.

The same could be said about Netflix, albeit on a smaller scale. In fact, you could say the same about messaging apps, social apps and even email applications. As mobile has become more prevalent in our lives, companies have put more work into optimizing and fine-tuning their mobile applications.

Mobile web browsing does still take up some app usage and at 10% of all usage, you certainly can’t ignore it completely, but it does like insignificant in comparison to the 90% of time spent in mobile applications.

So there we have it – mobile apps are becoming more relevant than ever. Websites are further encouraging their viewers to download their apps and the mobile web is being left in the dust. Mobile web browsing is still important, but it’s currently being overshadowed by mobile app usage.

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Author: Richard Buettner
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