No wonder app usage has overtaken the web
I previously looked at the soaring data consumption fuelled by the rampant adoption of mobile apps.
But what is it that has made apps so popular with users?
In August 2010, comScore reported that the total time spent by US consumers inside Facebook exceeded that spent in all Google properties combined.
December 2011 was an equally seminal month – but this time for the mobile app economy. Flurry Analytics released research that found the aggregate time spent in the US using mobile apps exceeded the time spent using the internet itself.
Flurry’s research confirmed that US users spent an average of 94 minutes per day in applications (on iOS, Android, Blackberry and J2ME platforms) compared to an average of 72 minutes per day spent by users on all internet websites.
It noted that even if we decide that mobile web browsers count towards internet usage, the time spent in apps still comes out on top.
If the internet was an earthquake – disruptive, powerful, and transformative – then the growth of mobile apps is creating an equally mighty aftershock.
Value for money
There are presently over 100 million smartphones in the US.
If we assume that the average time spent in apps will remain static at 94 minutes a day (it won’t – it’s growing), then this would equate to there being over 57 billion hours of entertainment time spent in the US consuming mobile app media per year.
This significant increase in time being spent on apps makes much more sense when we consider that apps are fundamentally a form of entertainment.
Let’s consider several different types of entertainment, and compare them to apps on a cost-per-hour basis to give us a basic measure of value.
A standard movie, for instance, is two hours long and costs $12.50 for a ticket. The cost of this activity is $6.25 per hour.
An Xbox game may cost $60 and provide roughly 40 hours of gameplay. That’s $1.50 per hour for console gaming.
A paperback book sold at $10 provides 20 hours of reading entertainment and equates to 50c per hour.
Take a game like Angry Birds, however, and assume 20 hours of entertainment through the 300+ levels, and it becomes clear that apps are priced at an entirely different price point to those older entertainment forms.
Even if we completely ignore the freemium model, paid games are regularly priced at mere cents for each hour of entertainment.
Mobile devices and tablets already have an unfair competitive advantage against the stationary desktop computer. Add to that the incredible value-per-hour a user gets from a 99c or free app.
Time is our most finite and valued of resources. Considering these factors, it’s not hard to see why mobile apps will continue to disrupt users’ market share of time from competing forms of entertainment such as console games, movies – and the internet itself.