Arbitron is launching a new syndicated mobile research service for the U.S. covering usage across the Web, apps, social media and e-commerce on mobile devices. The new offering will also report reach, frequency, and key activities on mobile phones and tablets, whether connected via a cellular or Wi-Fi network or used offline.
Arbitron’s U.S.-based mobile panel includes an opt-in group of approximately 6,000 smartphone and tablet users 18+ initially recruited starting November 2011. Arbitron’s mobile division already operates research panels in the U.K., Finland, Denmark, France and Germany.
Arbitron Mobile was created last year through the parent company’s acquisition of Finland-based mobile analytics outfit Zokem for $11.7 million.
In the U.S., Arbitron will compete directly with media research firms including comScore and Nielsen, which also provide panel-based data on mobile usage. In addition to tracking usage via on-device software, the company says its measurement technology will be able to serve real-time questionnaires directly to a user’s mobile device for custom research studies.
The new service is designed to help marketers, publishers, developers and carriers answer questions, such as how popular an app is, what key differences in usage are by operating system, where consumers come from to find content, and what a day in the life of a mobile consumer looks like.
To that end, Arbitron revealed some initial findings based on its research, including naming the five most popular apps: Facebook, Google Search, YouTube, Pandora radio and Yahoo Mail. Facebook is the top smartphone app overall with a monthly reach of 65%, and accounting for 210 minutes of the average user’s monthly time spent on their device.
Twitter, the No. 8 app, has 13.2% reach, amounting to 107 minutes a month in time spent. Social media apps collectively represent 11.1% of smartphone use. Arbitron found that app usage overall is growing faster than mobile Web browsing.
When it comes to messaging, mobile users on average send about 11 SMS text messages a day and receive 13, and spend 212 minutes a month reading or sending them. More time is devoted to email than text messaging, at 332 minutes monthly. Of all communalizations via smartphones, voice accounts for only 45% of usage time, according to Arbitron.