While mobile web browsing is still the top single driver of mobile traffic, native data applications, such as social networking, multimedia and maps, capture already 50% of all mobile data volume.
Almost all smartphone users with a data plan activate their mobile web browser at least once a month, spending on average 300 minutes browsing the web, a figure that is comparable to mobile voice usage. The global smartphone study run by Zokem shows, however, that although web browser is the single most popular data application (54% of data application face time and 50% of data volume), native data applications are increasing their share of face time relative to the web browser.
These native applications represent all kinds of usage purposes from social networking, maps and productivity to information and utility. In social networking, for example, Facebook’s native application catches monthly 12% of users with high face time of 188 minutes on average per month. Twitter, on the other hand, is used
even more, averaging 311 minutes a month although it has a smaller monthly user base of only 4% of active smartphone users.
There is also a clear trend towards add-on applications that drive mobile traffic growth. “We clearly see that there is a strong counter-acting trend for the Google- driven push for web-based applications in mobile, this force coming from native applications that people install to smartphones. App stores, even Google’s own Android Market Place, combined with a variety of non-browser based data applications pre-embedded in today’s smartphones, are now driving the growth of the mobile Internet”, says Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, founder of Zokem. “There is still a lot of usage inside the web browser. However, as mobile consumption patterns get richer, and people learn to require more and more functionalities, the native applications in most cases provide the best user experience”.
“Take your Android phone as an example, do you want to access YouTube with your browser if you have a shortcut on your home screen for the brilliantly working native YouTube app?”, asks Verkasalo.
In Figure 1, the top data applications are plotted to give a reflection of what people do on the mobile Internet. X- axis is the share of people who are using a particular application at least once per month, and Y-axis reflects the average number of minutes users spend with the application every month. Behind the device’s own web browser, and applications like email and maps which are typically pre-embedded in the phone, there are various applications, such as social media, Widgets, Google Mail, and most notably, music and video streaming, visible in the chart. Opera, the top provider of add-on browser applications, is also well represented among top data applications.
In Figure 2, web browser is compared to native applications, reflecting the fact that even though web browser may be the single most popular data application, it has only a small share of all device usage. This is due to offline and non-Internet related activities, such as text messaging, voice, calendar, camera, video and music playback that still take a big portion of mobile usage.
Even when including only data applications (the second and third columns), web browsing is shrinking in relative usage. “Only a few years ago web browsing was about 70-80% of smartphone-driven Internet usage, but now it seems to be changing”, says Verkasalo. He also reminds that web browsing usage is still increasing in absolute terms, but new data applications simply push the relative share of web browsing down.
The Zokem Mobile Insights statistics are based on patented non-parametric measurements that take place directly in smartphones. In the study, Zokem analyzed a dataset of more than 10 000 smartphone users, including 6.5 million distinct smartphone application usage sessions in 16 countries during 2009 and 2010."
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