Apps: comparing time spent to reach

App usage by time spent. Source: Forrester via MarketingLand

App usage by time spent.
Source: Forrester via MarketingLand

Forrester released a report last week with statistics about how much time users spend in certain apps. It turns out that despite the thousands of apps available in the app stores, users spend 80% of their time in just a few apps, maybe even as little as five.

It’s an interesting graph, yet aside from a few exceptions, it mostly correlates with the ComScore data about the top mobile apps by unique visitors. I take this to mean that the most common apps in terms of adoption are also the ones used the most. Yet, while Facebook takes top billing in both lists, it is interesting to note what apps make one list but not the other and what apps have significantly different ranks on the two lists.

Top apps by unique users. Source: ComScore

Top apps by unique users.
Source: ComScore

  1. Games. Candy Crush and Words with Friends, 12 and 20 on Forrester’s list, are not even on the reach chart. In fact, there are no games on the reach chart yet Candy Crush boasts a daily revenue of almost $10 and over 9 million daily active users. It would make more sense to me if even more games were on the chart.
  2. Media. The media-consuming apps Netflix and Kindle are both are in the top 10 for time spent but Kindle isn’t even on the top 25 apps in terms of reach. Netflix is 17 by reach but 7th by time used. People are reading more on their devices and watching more video. YouTube is number two on both charts, proving that uses like to watch both shorter clips and longer shows and movies. The opposite is also true: there are a number of “quick use” apps that many use, but only for really short periods of time as they don’t even register on Forrester’s chart. Google Search is a prime example, 4th in terms of reach, 15th in terms of time spent (if Forrester’s “Google” does indeed refer to search.)
  3. Maps. The one app I was surprised to see in the top five (on both charts) is Maps. I thought mobile users utilized it to find a place and get directions but I assume that the high time rank means that users also use it to navigate to a location, keeping it open the entire time. It’s interesting to note that many apps that include a map feature, such as Yelp, Starbucks, Best Parking and GasBuddy to name a few, don’t include a direction feature or navigation. That all takes place in Maps. It’s not entirely surprising considering how difficult it is to implement but given its stickiness, will we see more apps developing it in the future?

Finally, as I use my tablet and phone to read news quite often, I was really surprised not to see any news apps on either chart. Is it because the audience is fragmented among many different apps without one garnering enough attention or do people just not use their devices to read news? And again, with all that choice out there, users spending so much of their time on such a small group of apps is sad news for new app developers. It shows how incredibly difficult it will it be to get just a bit of the remaining share.


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