Research released today indicates that U.S. smartphone users now spend more time with mobile applications per day than people do using the desktop and mobile Web. Earlier this year, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers issued data predicting that smartphones and tablet shipments in 2011 would exceed PCs and notebook computers.
As of June, time spent with mobile apps per day per person reached an average of 81 minutes compared to 74 minutes on the Web, according to app analytics and advertising firm Flurry. In December, the split was nearly even: 70 minutes spent with apps versus 66 online. A year ago, time spent clearly favored the Web, at an average of 64 minutes to 43 for apps. The change reflects a 91% increase in time spent with apps since June 2010.
"This growth has come primarily from more sessions per user, per day rather than a large growth in average session lengths. Time spent on the Internet has grown at a much slower rate, 16% over the last year," stated a Monday blog post by Charles Newark-French, product marketing manager at Flurry.
The company's figures were based on a comparison of publicly available Internet usage information from comScore and Alexa and Flurry's own app data drawn from use across more than 85,000 apps on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and other platforms.
Of the 74 minutes spent online per day, Flurry estimates that 14, or one-sixth, are on Facebook.
"Considering Facebook's recent leak regarding Project Spartan, an effort to run apps within its service on top of the mobile Safari browser, thus disintermediating Apple, it appears that Facebook seeks to counter both Apple and Google's increasing control over consumers as mobile app usage proliferates," noted Newark-French.
When it comes to apps, games and social networking are the most popular categories, together accounting for nearly 80% of time spent. Individually, games are responsible for almost half (47%) of total app time, social networking titles, 32%, news, 9%, entertainment, 7%, and "other," 5%. People turn to gaming and social apps more frequently and for longer average session times.
As of April, about 38% of all U.S. mobile users used downloaded apps, 28% accessed a social networking site or blog, and 26% played games, according to separate comScore data. The number of traditional Internet users, of course, remains larger than that on smartphones. comScore estimates 74.6 people in the U.S. owned smartphones in April. That compares to an online audience of 216 million unique visitors in May.
Whether people will spend increasing time on the mobile Web as the user experience improves through wider adoption of HTML5 programming, faster networks or other factors remains to be seen. But it will take more publishers developing a presence especially tailored to mobile devices. Research released last week by Blaze Software showed only about four out of 10 sites on Android phones and the iPhone were optimized for mobile.