Mobile Users Are Spending More Time In The Same Apps [CHART]

The average amount of time mobile users spend within apps each month has grown significantly over the past two years. However, that doesn’t mean they’re using a significantly higher number of apps overall.

  • iPhone and Android users above the age of 18 in the U.S. each spent an average of over 30 hours per month within apps during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to new data from Nielsen, compiled in the chart above from BI Intelligence. That’s up 65% from the same period two years ago.
  • Growth in time spent accelerated between 2012 and 2013. Time spent per person grew 26% year-over-year between 2011 and 2012; growth ticked up to 31% between 2012 and 2013.
  • These same users navigated an average of 26.8 apps per person each month during the fourth quarter of 2013. That’s up just 15% from two years ago, when users navigated an average 23.3 apps per month.
  • But looking at the most recent data, it’s clear that the number of apps used has actually plateaued. Between 2011 and 2012, growth in the number of apps used was 15%, but between 2012 and 2013, it grew just 1%.

This development is important in the context of the recent movement toward “app unbundling,” tech companies increasing tendency to package specific services into standalone apps to provide users with a more tailored experience.

BI Intelligence recently reported how app unbundling may prove successful in emerging markets in providing users with more streamlined apps that take up less storage capacity and suck up less cellular data. But this U.S. data shows that in developed markets users seem to have found a reliable pool of robust apps that they stick to to complete their tasks. Getting users to download a greater number of apps with fewer services may take some convincing.

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