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Serving Illinois Health Information Professionals

2015 Report on Use of Mobile Apps in the U.S.

The company comScore has released the 2015 “U.S. Mobile App Report”. The study tracks app use across a number of devices (desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones) and also includes findings from a survey on the user habits of smartphone owners. A number of areas of use were analyzed, including audiences, user habits, the most popular and fastest-growing apps, content categories, social and entertainment apps, and app ads and monetization. The study’s key findings include the following.

  • The amount of time that people spend using digital media continues to grow rapidly, and much of that use includes mobile apps, particularly smartphone apps. The typical mobile user spends 26 hours per month on social apps, and the amount of time is higher among millennials.
  • In establishing a user base for an app, it is sometimes difficult to maintain user engagement, since apps don’t have as many options for easily linking to other sources of content. On the other hand, those people who do use apps tend to be very loyal and spend much more time on a particular app than the most frequent visitors to mobile websites spend there. Fifty percent of the time using smartphones is spent on one’s favorite app; this percentage rises to 60 percent on tablets.
  • The 25 most popular mobile apps are led by the major digital media companies, including Facebook and YouTube. The also tend to focus within a few categories, particularly social media and entertainment. (Apps in these categories take up two-thirds of the total time spent using apps.) Among specific kinds of apps, fitness ones with personal-health-tracking features are rising in popularity.
  • Among millennials, the most popular apps fall into the social, video, music, and communications categories. Facebook remains the most popular app by far, with Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Twitter also receiving significant use.
  • Millennials are more likely to use apps on smartphones, while other segments of the population tend to use apps on tablets. In operating smartphones, millennials are more likely than older people to use just one hand. Those people who do use one hand utilize “thumb reach” to determine where apps are positioned on a phone.
  • Mobile video is becoming increasingly popular, as evidenced by the popularity of the YouTube mobile app. Podcasting, also, is becoming trendy, with over 40 percent of millennials listening to one on a smartphone app at least once a month.

The study also drew three broader conclusions.

  • Even though the use of mobile apps (and digital media more broadly) is expanding rapidly, web-based resources on desktop and mobile devices are still popular.
  • App use depends much on habit and reflex, meaning that specific apps often account for a large majority of the usage, and app-producing companies should target marketing accordingly.
  • Use of apps by millennials continues to drive overall app use and will likely increase even more. App creators must be aware of millennials’ habits and desires in order to be successful in the larger market.

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