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How Mobile Users Are Spending Their Time

According to a slew of new data including a report by Flurry Analytics, people are spending more time in mobile apps then they are watching TV. Other sources, including a Forrester Research study on app usage show that the apps that people are using are generally from a small list, and that they typically use five apps the majority of the time. Which five apps obviously vary from person to person, but a small number of frequently-used apps is typical across users. For some, their top five might include social media or gaming, while others may spend more time in instant messaging. The data shows that users are spending more time on mobile devices, and that apps are now the most popular method for viewing media in the United States. Consumers now expect their videos to come through a mobile app.


The Flurry data shows that users’ mobile behavior is pushing app providers to become an integral part of the smartphone environment. They must establish their products and position them as a must-have download on users’ smartphones. Interestingly, it appears that digital consumers are spending over 85 percent of their time on their smartphones using native applications, but most of their time is spent using only about five non-native apps that they installed from an app store.

Flurry data shows that people are spending more time in mobile apps than watching TV. In 2015, U.S. consumers spent 198 minutes in mobile apps per day compared to 168 minutes watching TV. That time in mobile apps is up from 139 minutes in 2014 and 126 minutes in 2013, not including time spent browsing. It should be noted that no differentiation has been made about the common overlap of using mobile devices while watching TV. No quantified decrease in TV usage has been noted.

A very small number of companies are now dominating app minute usage, including Facebook (13 percent), Google (12 percent), Amazon (3 percent), Apple (3 percent), Yahoo (2 percent), Microsoft (1 percent) and eBay (1 percent.) Another study that was published recently by Nielsen confirms that there is a definite limit to how many apps a person uses in any given month.

Mobile users have gotten used to the paid-content digital business model, and think nothing of paying for apps that they like, including games, which have been consistently dominating the list of top-grossing apps in app stores, but this year things are looking different. The Flurry report shows that apps such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Spotify and Pandora are ranking highly.

In light of these new data, the recent Apple TV announcement has greater meaning. Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the new television vs. mobile metric saying: “We believe the future of television is apps. In fact, this transition has already begun.” With the new features in Apple TV’s new OS including supporting apps and an App Store for third-party apps, users can now stream content from providers such as Netflix as well as shop and play games. Television will survive, but it will mean more than just passively watching.