The experts were wrong: mobile browser still has more traffic than apps

Remember that war between mobile browser and mobile app? Remember how the experts said that mobile app traffic would overtake and beat mobile browser traffic? Duh. It didn’t happen. It hasn’t happened. Will it ever happen? Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. But the statistics for now will shock you. Wait for it….

mobile-web-browsing

According to Morgan Stanley, in the US market:

  1. Mobile browser traffic is actually twice that of mobile app traffic
  2. Mobile browser traffic is actually growing faster than mobile app traffic
  3. 90% of the companies in travel, retail, and finance get over 50% of their visits from the mobile web

Is that all? Actually, no. There is very significant news on the flip side. According to Comscore, in the US market:

  1. 87 percent of all time spent on mobile was spent in mobile apps
  2. social, entertainment and gaming apps account for the majority of users’ app engagement

Traffic versus Time
Anyone who deals with traffic statistics understands the difference between user traffic and time spent by users on a platform. A website can have lots of traffic but low user engagement, say the average user spends 2 minutes and is off for the day. Another website with lower traffic can have greater engagement i.e. the average user spends 10 minutes on the site each day, going from page to page and posting comments. Both metrics are important and useful in different ways.

So, we see that mobile browser gets more traffic than mobile apps do, but people actually spend more time in apps than on their mobile browsers. Well, that is understandable. There are lots of apps that do not necessarily require an internet connection to function – games, calendar, notes, document readers and editors, image viewers and editors, music and video apps, etc.

Here is how many web-related activities on mobile happen:

  1. When people need information, they run a search from a search bar or their web browser, and get links leading to websites. Of course, once they are done reading, they exit the browser and get back into whatever app they were in earlier or into another
  2. Users of especially social media apps run into links to articles and click through to go read, then return back to the social app or to some other app on the phone

The statistics are from the US market only, but there is no doubt that it should a fair enough representation of mobile users globally. The US is the most advanced market in terms of apps, so the data may be even more skewed towards the mobile browser outside of that market. Also, though people spend a lot more time in apps than in the browser, only a handful of apps – about five of them – constitute much of average app engagement. Many apps are not used on a regular basis, and most apps never get used after the initial try.

Hint to developers and brands: on the average, your mobile-compliant website stands a much better chance of discovery and usage than your mobile app.

No; the mobile war is NOT over. It is very much alive and well.

Interesting phenomenon in all. Do you think that mobile app traffic will one day catch up with and supersede mobile web traffic?

4 comments

  1. It depends on the app and the website.

    For example, I have a newpaper’s app on my phone, but I mostly interact with their website via links from elsewhere. Sometimes I go to the app, but it takes too long to trawl through to find the article, however I could go to the Google+ or Facebook app and click on the link.

    And I’ve recently discovered that Facebook via the web loads quicker and is more up to date than the app. I read somewhere that you use less data accessing the website than using the app. Haven’t tried it yet to confirm.

    1. It’s true here too. Facebook and Google on browsers like UcWeb and Opera gulp less mb when compare to the apps. The browsers also load fast too. There are even instances where browsers show more websites features than apps.

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