Making calls may no longer be the primary user function of smartphones, but it’s definitely still a personal social hub. Texting, media and location-based services are the most-used services on smartphones, and the social networking app downloads have almost tripled in daily volume worldwide.
While the download volumes among the top 100 most popular apps was up by 43 percent in just two years, the download volume among the top 100 most popular social networking applications was almost 200 percent higher during that same period, showing an impressive growth surge as new applications hit the market and smartphones gained popularity.
The United States remains the most social savvy, with app downloads in the social category taking up 20 percent of the top overall apps. Users in Europe and Southeast Asia are the least social on their mobile devices, with social app download volumes at less than 10 percent of the top overall.
Unsurprisingly, the most popular mobile social network aggregated across all countries between July 2010 and June 2012 was Facebook. However, in many Asian countries, Facebook was no longer the most popular between July 2011 and June 2012. Applications like LINE, WeChat and Viber took over Facebook’s leading position.
Instagram, launched in October 2010, was the big winner in terms of rapid growth in a short period of time. The social photo-sharing app vaulted to the number 2 spot just behind Facebook in terms of downloads between July 2011 and June 2012.
Instagram could potentially have harmed Facebook’s dominant position, which likely indicates why Facebook was so eager to strike a deal to acquire Instagram back in April. That deal is still in progress, but Facebook did just get a thumbs up in a fairness hearing from the state Department of Corporations, which should help expedite the process. Moving quickly is definitely in their best interest, as Instagram was much more popular in terms of downloads than Facebook in many countries in July 2012.
Aggregated over these 10 countries (with the largest being the U.S.), the clear winner in terms of downloads was Instagram, followed by Twitter and Facebook. Skype and Pinterest also gathered a lot more downloads in the Apple App Store for iPhone in July 2012.
Note that these findings are based on download volume, not necessarily active installs or active users. The Facebook app has been around for over three years and the adoption is already high, especially in mature markets like the U.S. No matter the app, it’s clear that we are increasingly connecting and sharing via our mobile devices as social networking continues to explode.