In the UK, Fitness and Finance Are Hot, at Least as Far as Apps Go - eMarketer
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In the UK, Fitness and Finance Are Hot, at Least as Far as Apps Go

Games lose ground

May 18, 2017 | Media Buying | Mobile

Between September 2016 and March 2017, the communication and social media apps category consolidated its lead as the most popular app type among app-using adults in the UK.

Time spent on those apps rose by 11.2 billion minutes during that timeframe, equal to a 38% increase, according to cross-device usage data compiled by Verto Analytics. In March, those apps represented 44% of UK users’ app time.

Top 10 UK Mobile App Categories, Ranked by Change in Time Spent, Sep 2016-March 2017 (millions of minutes and % change)

Entertainment apps tallied the next biggest rise, up 3.4 billion minutes, or 22%, accounting for 21% of monthly app minutes.

On a percentage increase basis, health and fitness (up 156%) and finance (up 100%) were the fastest growing app categories during the period—each recorded rises of at least 500 million minutes.

It wasn’t all good news, though.

The third largest app category by time spent—games—dropped by 2.4 billion minutes, or 16%, lowering its share of overall app time from 18% last September to 13% in March, Verto found.

Whether the changes seen in Verto’s data—less time with games, more with fitness, for example—reflect a coalescing preference remains to be seen, however.

Separate comScore Inc. data tracking the top 20 mobile apps in the UK by unique visitors in March 2017 generally jibes with Verto’s top categories by time spent.

Top 10 UK Mobile App Properties, Ranked by Unique Visitors, July 2016 (millions)

By comScore’s count, communication and social apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Gmail crowded the upper echelon of the list—and games were nowhere to be seen. That could reflect games’ lessening hold on people’s mobile app time, but it could also be more of a seasonal blip.

A key difference between September and March was that in the earlier period, Pokémon Go was still at the height of its popularity. ComScore data from July 2016—Pokémon Go’s first month of availability—shows it was one of the UK’s top 10 mobile app properties for that period, just behind Twitter in popularity.

Granted, Pokémon Go’s popularity proved fairly fleeting, but it may be too soon to count out games. More than most app types, all it takes is one breakout game for the category’s time spent numbers to bounce back.

Cliff Annicelli

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