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Is Internet Time All About Apps?

Strong majorities of smartphone and tablet time are spent with apps

September 28, 2016 | Media | Mobile

Mobile apps are taking over the digital world, according to research on the amount of time US consumers spend with media. eMarketer estimated earlier this month that 85.7% of nonvoice time spent with smartphones was spent with apps, as opposed to just 14.3% spent on the mobile web.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day on Mobile Internet Among US Smartphone and Tablet Users, In-App vs. Mobile Web, 2016 (% of total)

On tablets, too, mobile apps are dominant: About three-quarters of tablet time is spent with apps. Overall, eMarketer estimates that the average US adult spends 2 hours 28 minutes each day with mobile apps, or about 20% of their daily media time. Among mobile device users only, the average time spent daily with apps is 3 hours 18 minutes.

That’s more time than they spend with desktop or laptop PCs, a finding echoed by comScore as far back as June 2014. The internet users studied by comScore have continued to spend more time with mobile apps each year since then, opening up the gap between mobile app time and all other digital media time even further.

Time Spent Online Among US Internet Users, by Platform, June 2013-June 2016 (billions of minutes)

Mobile web time spent is up slightly as well, from 118 billion minutes in June 2015 to 125 billion a year later.

But smartphone apps account for the lion’s share of growth in time spent online since June 2013, comScore reported.

Tablets apps also contributed 9% of growth in time spent online.

Share of Growth in Time Spent Online Among US Internet Users, by Platform, June 2016 (% of total change vs. June 2013)

Aggregate figures only tell part of the story: Younger smartphone users overindex in time spent with apps, while the same is true of older tablet users. For example, 18- to 24-year-old smartphone users spent an average of 93.5 hours using smartphone apps in June, compared to 73.8 hours among the overall smartphone population. Meanwhile, on tablets, those 55 to 64 spent the most time with apps that month, at 28.0 hours. Average time spent with tablet apps among tablet users was 22.6 hours.

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