When it comes to media consumption, mobile apps continue to take a bigger piece of the pie.
It wasn’t long ago when mobile apps were not even mainstream. Now, they account for nearly 20 percent of media consumption, according to a new study from eMarketer.
Here is a look at mobile app trends for 2017, how they compare to recent years and what the future holds.
App Usage Surpasses Expectations
This year, adults in the U.S. will use mobile apps 2 hours, 25 minutes per day, according to the eMarketer study. That’s up 10.3 percent versus 2016, and it’s a bit higher than the company’s most recent forecast.
There is a debate among advertisers about in-app advertising and ads on the mobile web, but perhaps there shouldn’t be — users seem to be infatuated with mobile apps.
The eMarketer study says U.S. adults will spend an average of 26 minutes per day browsing the mobile web, just a fraction of the time they spend with mobile apps. The study says adults in the U.S. will launch an average of 20.7 unique apps per month in 2017.
Mobile App Usage on the Rise
The interesting thing about app trends is, as time using apps continues to grow, the number of apps used is on a slight decline. Two years ago, U.S. adults spent an average of 1 hour, 55 minutes with mobile apps. That jumped to 2 hours, 11 minutes last year, then 2 hours, 25 minutes in 2017.
At the same time, U.S. adults launched an average of 21.0 unique mobile apps per month last year, compared to 20.7 apps per month this year. It’s not a huge change, but it’s somewhat surprising considering the growth rate of mobile app usage.
eMarketer forecasting analyst Jaimie Chung says in the study publishers contribute to the slow consolidation of the app marketplace by combining many functions into their app. In other words, many users stick to the apps they like and spend more time with those rather than introducing new ones into their rotation. A study last year found fewer than 25 percent of folks return to a new app the day after the first time they use it.
The Future of Mobile Apps
Time spent with mobile apps will grow for the foreseeable future, according to the report. Next year, the average U.S. adult will spend 2 hours, 35 minutes per day with mobile apps, rising to 2 hours, 43 minutes per day in 2019. These numbers presumably mean mobile apps will garner an even larger slice of the total media consumption pie in the coming years.
During that same stretch, time spent on mobile browsers will remain flat next year at 26 minutes per day, then rise slightly to 27 minutes per day two years from now.
Further, the number of apps people use regularly will continue to decline.
The number of unique apps launched each month will go from 20.7 this year to 20.4 per month next year and 20.1 per month in 2019.
That said, there are a number of factors that could affect the trends going forward. If wearable devices begin to catch on even more, it’s possible people will spend even more time with apps each day. If the Internet of Things or smart home devices continue to grow as they are, the associated apps will contribute to increased consumption as well.
It’s possible video consumption on mobile devices will take a larger cut of viewing on traditional TVs. That’s another reason why time spent with mobile apps will grow for years to come.
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