A number of incredibly useful statistics have been published by Nielsen which show that the max number of apps used on a monthly basis hasn’t increased significantly over the past few years, but that the average time we spend using our apps is expanding. If you are a developer then this means that breaking into the popular app club is only going to get harder and harder as more apps hit the marketplace.
For consumers above age 18 on both iOS and Android, the number of actively used apps each month has settled around 26 over the past few years. There may be more apps installed and the apps can change, but people don’t seem to be using more than that on a consistent basis.
The other interesting change is the total amount of time we are spending in apps. Kids spend the most time, but everyone is increasing their time in front of their mobile devices. Social apps still are the most used monthly at just under 11 hours per person, but entertainment is right behind them at 10 1/2 hours.
One growth statistic that I wasn’t at all surprised to see was that photography apps increased in usage from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013 by 131%. As a tourist this month I have seen a lot of people taking pictures and traditional cameras are outnumber 10 to 1 everywhere I look. The social category could be analyzed by sub groups with one focusing on social photography, because posting pictures using social apps is gaining a serious amount of traction and a big part of how people use their phones and tablets.
The lessons learned from this study tell us that we are using our mobile devices more but that our ability to focus on apps is limited. I see myself in these numbers and it makes me wonder if it is healthy to use them so much, but I also see the benefits that our technology offers us. I believe we will eventually plateau on the number of hours we spend on our devices but that time hasn’t arrived quite yet.