Mobile App Usage Exploded In 2013, Led By Messaging And Social

Overall mobile app usage increased 115% globally in 2013, based on growth in the total number of app sessions launched, led by the growing popularity of messaging and social apps.

  • Messaging and social apps enjoyed the most dramatic growth in 2013. User sessions for these app types increased 203% year-over-year.
  • Utilities and productivity apps saw a 149% increase in app usage, an indicator that people are getting things done and using their phones as a lynchpin computing device.
  • Usage of entertainment and gaming apps saw leaps of 78% and 66% this year, respectively.

The data is based on 400,000 mobile apps that used Flurry Analytics as of Dec. 31, 2013.

Usage is defined in this case as the number of times an app session was launched. In other words, if an app category saw 100% more usage, it means the total number of user sessions doubled in the year.

Flurry did not control for growth of its analytics platform. Overall user sessions may have increased in part because new apps were integrating Flurry’s analytics tool, and some app categories would have had more user session growth if many apps in that category suddenly started using Flurry.

But these numbers can still be seen as a rough gauge of app usage growth, and provide evidence that social and messaging services are becoming increasingly native on mobile devices.

Although Flurry’s data does not separate out usage for individual platforms and we don’t know whether popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Vine, or LINE use Flurry’s tools, evidence shows that photo- and text-sharing apps had a breakout year. According to GlobalWebIndex, Vine’s monthly active user base grew more than 400% in the first three quarters of 2013, and WhatsApp’s grew 123%.

As long as these apps continue to increase their audience sizes, usage should increase as well.

Download the chart and data in Excel.

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