mobile apps vs mobile websites

We’ve shared a steady flow of information on the push and pull between apps and the mobile web many times, but one thing is undeniable – in terms of user hours, apps are always miles ahead.

Recently, Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Report for 2014 reconfirmed this fact when it reported that 89% of time spent on media on a smartphone is spent on apps, while only 11% is spent on the mobile web. Monthly, apps account for about 30 hours of time per user (a year ago, it was only about 23 hours – a 30% increase, year over year).

Who’s driving these trends? It’s not just young folks.

The mobile trend overall is, as expected, most noticeable among young adults. For adults ages 18-24, smartphones are huge, coming behind only TV and AM/FM radio in terms of multimedia device usage. Compare TV at 22 hours weekly and radio at 11 hours weekly to smartphones at 7 hours weekly. In addition, Internet browsing on the computer is only at 4 hours. That is, for this age group, mobile apps and mobile web are ahead of the desktop/laptop, when it comes to media.

This tells you where things are headed for your business in the future when it comes to connecting with the younger segment of your audience.

But, if you’re thinking that this doesn’t have a big effect on your overall marketing plans, think again, because the trend holds true for the population in the aggregate, with monthly time for smartphones at 34 hours and computer time on the Internet at 28 hours.

The world’s gone mobile, folks.

Why are apps so far ahead?

The data show that this is primarily due to the types of tasks that each is used for. While a user can easily sink hour after hour into Candy Crush, or Facebook, it’s harder for a person to browse the Internet for comparable lengths of time on a mobile device (a workplace computer, of course, is rumored to be notoriously well-suited to this purpose).

This isn’t to say, however, that mobile websites should be treated as an afterthought.

On the contrary! They’re a necessity for any small business. And while they are used for far less time than apps, don’t let the comparison fool you. User searches on the mobile web are increasing very quickly, and often lead directly to store visits and purchases for small businesses. Even though they don’t account for a lot of user time, they make up for it in the quality of time spent. Essentially, a mobile website is a key new channel for connecting with customers, and avoiding creating one is both short-sighted and destructive to revenue growth potential.

Customers only hop on mobile websites for a few seconds, but those seconds can mean the difference between making a sale and being invisible.

So what’s the takeaway here?

The takeaway for small businesses is that users have become very comfortable using apps. Obviously, a user won’t tend to spend the same amount of time using the app of their local pizza shop as they will the leading social apps or games, but the carryover effect should still be there. Firing up an app to handle a task is becoming a highly ingrained behavior, and small businesses would be well served to take advantage of the habit while the small business app market is still unsaturated.

Create your own app, and you can make the most of a technology that has become a popular powerhouse with a huge amount of people. You need to go where your audience is, and as the data show, your audience is probably in an app right now.

Go meet them!

Image Source: Business Insider

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