Forget the Web, We’re Apping It Up


ADOTAS – I’ve been mulling over this chart from mobile app analytics firm Flurry the last few days that suggests consumers are spending more time within apps than they are on the web (desktop or mobile). Growing 91% in the last year, daily time spent in mobile apps averages 81 minutes per person compared with 74 minutes on the web.

It seems kind of unbelievable, but Nielsen reported earlier this week that mobile data usage is up 89% per user compared to the year before. Flurry, which has always been handy with mobile app data, used its own data (500 million daily user sessions across more than 85,000 applications on the iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and J2ME platforms) to determine average daily native app use while deriving average web consumption (both mobile and desktop) using data from Alexa and comScore.

Time spent online is still increasing, just at a 16% growth rate opposed to mobile’s 91%. Although mobile users spend 47% of their app time gaming, 32% is spent on social networking apps, with 14 of the 74 minutes attributed to the Facebook app.

Why I’m really puzzled by the data is that I thought mobile apps would lose their novelty — which they still could, as Flurry notes it’s only been about four years since they appeared. And Facebook might try to cut into that app time.

It was leaked last year that Facebook was inserting a social layer into the Android mobile OS — HTC Status (once called the ChaCha), featuring a dedicated Facebook button along with a deep social integration reportedly will appear in AT&T stores in the next few weeks, Boy Genius reports.

But the hooha of late has been over Project Spartan, where Facebook plans to skip the OS and weave itself right into the mobile browser. It looks like a shot at Apple, which supposedly snubbed Facebook in favor of Twitter for the social login feature in the new iOS. But who snubbed whom? TechCrunch’s MC Siegler wisely asks, as Spartan is a move by Facebook to run apps within its service on top of the Safari mobile browser.

Put simply, through an HTML5-based layer, Facebook will pretty much own the mobile browser, somewhat similar to the way social browser Rockmelt works, but major apps from Zynga, Huffington Post and other developers will be easily accessible through the Facebook mobile site.

So consider that 14 minutes spent on the Facebook app — if the social network offered you a better, less glitchy experience through its mobile site (which you could argue it already does) and gave you instant access to your favorite apps with Facebook integration built in, I imagine you’d be spending a lot less time within native apps and more on the web. Yet you’re still apping — has Facebook discovered the best of both worlds?

But what about advertising? It finally feels like the tech companies have figured out this in-app advertising thing. Apps through Spartan would present a new opportunity to reach mobile consumers, but you’d have to go through Facebook, which makes Apple’s iron fist look like a velvet glove. However, Facebook is trying to play nice with agencies these days….



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