Despite the rise in popularity of the mobile web, mobile apps are producing more monthly usage minutes than mobile web browsing and only slightly behind messaging, according to a recent study.
The report, published by Zokem and the GSMA, surveyed more than 2200 smartphone users in the U.S. and the U.K. in January. The results showed apps usage (which included maps, gaming, entertainment, productivity and social networking) to generate 667 average monthly minutes. Messaging services topped the survey at 671 minutes. Voice clocked in at 531 minutes, and mobile web browsing at 422 minutes.The study also found that certain sites get more usage from mobile web browsers than they do from apps, including news (86 percent), search (85 percent) and commerce (66 percent). However, the study found that multimedia related services like online music and video are predominantly used through native apps rather than mobile web browsers.
Zokem’s CEO Hannu Verkasalo shared his perspective on why mobile apps are generating so much airtime on the GSMA’s blog:
“Mobile web browsers are no doubt evolving, with the most recent smartphones supporting HTML 5, Flash and other powerful web technologies - which is a good thing. However, there are still elements - like the small screen, rendering power of smartphones, limitations of web-site based application logic, offline use etc. - which make web browser based applications in most cases unsuitable, or user interfaces sub-optimal for mobile screens. It is easier technically to guarantee how an app looks, how it works, and how it delivers value to the user compared to web apps.”
Mobile apps developers certainly should cheer the news, but viewing mobile apps in a vacuum could be detrimental to developers and their brands. While apps are critical for all the reasons Zokem cites and more, the mobile web—and users’ increasing awareness of and patience for the browsing experience of it—should still be considered carefully as a critical part of any comprehensive mobile marketing or branding strategy.