Apps vs Browsers? No Contest. It’s Apps!

When apps — you know, those little applications that run on smartphones and tables? —  first came out a few years ago, a debate arose over which were better, apps or mobile websites, and which consumers would prefer. Developers thought that offering tailored services through a browser was much more desirable, from both cost and usability standpoints, rather than apps, which users had to update constantly, and that developers would have to maintain for several platforms. But consumers, hands down, have chosen apps. There’s something about these little one-trick ponies that are so easy to use that people like.

In this recent report from Flurry, a mobile analytics and advertising platform, it’s clear that apps command the most time spent on mobile devices by a whopping 4-to-1 ratio, and therefore are something consumers want.

Today, the U.S. consumer spends an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on smartphones and tablets. 80% of that time (2 hours and 7 minutes) is spent inside apps and 20% (31 minutes) is spent on the mobile web. Apps (and Facebook) are commanding a meaningful amount of consumers’ time. All mobile browsers combined … control 20% of consumers’ time. Gaming apps remain the largest category of all apps with 32% of time spent. Facebook is second with 18%, and Safari is 3rd with 12% Worth noting is that a lot of people are consuming web content from inside the Facebook app. For example, when a Facebook user clicks on a friend’s link or article, that content is shown inside its web view without launching a native web browser, which keeps the user in the app. So if we consider the proportion of Facebook app usage that is within their web view,  we can assert that Facebook has become the most adopted browser in terms of consumer time spent.

The article covers several more interesting points about apps, but the take-away is, it’s time to think about how we can use apps to best server our customers, and explore what other economies can apps provide. People are using them, so offering them will become a differentiator in the burgeoning mobile world.

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