It was once thought among mobile app development professionals that mobile web apps would become more popular than native mobile apps.  This has not turned out to be the case.  The analytics company Flurry crunched the data on mobile usage and found that, not only is the overall time spent on devices up an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes per day, but people are using that time differently.  A mere 22 minutes per day on average is all people are spending on the web.


Who Uses Mobile Apps?

Gaming has been the traditional reason behind the use of mobile apps, but now there are so many options for user.  For nearly every online activity, users can choose to use a web app or a mobile app and 86% of people are choosing to use mobile apps over web applications, particularly for social media, entertainment, news, productivity, and utilities.  Users can even shop for the latest fashions and order pizza from the comfort of their own home.  With one click of a button, anything can be ordered at any time of day and can be delivered to a user’s front door from anywhere in the world.  The result?  The world is shrinking.

Mobile App Usage

Data from comScore published in 2014 shows a breakdown of exactly how people are using mobiles apps, which includes iPhone apps, Android apps, and other types of apps on both smartphones and tablets.  Facebook was the most popular app being used and some of the other top 10 apps used include Google, eBay, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo.

ComScore also reported that more than one-third of app users in the U.S. download a minimum of one app per month and the smartphone user, on average,downloads three apps each month.Another interesting fact, and something that was not previously clear, is that the download activity of mobile users is rather top-heavy.  In other words, the top 7% of mobile users are responsible for almost half of the total download activity each month.

It is clear that users are addicted to their apps and live through their mobile devices.  A whopping 57% of smartphone users and 26% of tablet users use apps every day.  In addition, 79% of smartphone users use apps at least 26 days out of every month, while 52% of tablet users report the same usage.  iPhone users use apps 9 more hours per month than Android users.

Demand for Mobile App Development

Perhaps this unexpected draw toward the use of mobile apps is at least in part responsible for the shortage of mobile app developers.  Many companies that started out with a web-based platform are now scrambling to find mobile app developers who can turn their presence to a mobile app platform.  The above statistics are certainly a lesson for those who have relied or plan to rely on web app developers to create a mobile web presence because they may find themselves left behind.  The future is solidly grounded in mobile apps.

It is important to note that a shortage of mobile app developers doesn’t just make business difficult or merely slow down progress; it can bring progress, at least in terms of mobile presence, to a halt.  If a business can’t find a mobile app developer, then they can’t launch that popular app that their main competitor has launched.

Bottom Line

There have been concerns raised regarding this massive shift from web apps to mobile apps.  Web apps represent a free and open internet.  Contrary to this, mobile apps are controlled by two companies: Apple and Google.  These two companies take in 30% of the revenues made by those who create mobile apps.  They also have the power to censor the apps available in their stores.

The result, according to Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist with Andreessen Horowitz, is that the once free and open web is being hijacked by a “paid and highly-controlled in-app experience.”  Dixon points out that if the web was controlled this way in the 1990s, permission would have been needed for developers to create Facebook, Google, PayPal, Wikipedia, and so many more of the sites we have come to depend on.

In the end, good or bad, mobile app usage is on the rise.  That people prefer the mobile app experience to the web is a fact of life and a solid trend for the future of mobile.