Consumers are spending more time on their apps than ever before, according to new data from Nielsen.
Over the past half-decade, the proliferation of mobile devices "has transformed us into an app-driven society," Nielsen says, noting that North American Android and iPhone users age 18 and over spend 65 percent more time each month using apps than they did just two years ago.
In Q4 2013, they spent 30 hours using apps, a full half-day more than 18 hours in Q4 2011. The average number of apps used per month, however, only increased slightly. This shows that while there may be an upper limit to the total number of apps users are willing to access within a given month, "the amount of time they are spending on those apps is showing no signs of slowing down," suggests Nielsen.
Smartphone owners ages 25-44 use the greatest number of apps per month (29 apps on average), but 18-24 year-olds spend the most time on them (37 hours). Time spent does decrease with age, but apps are clearly playing a big role in the lives of all smartphone users; even those aged 55 and over spend more than 21 hours across an average of 22 different apps per month, according to Nielsen.
When looking at the types of apps that are competing for mobile users’ attention spans, social networking and search still rule, as people spent nearly 11 hours per month on average accessing these apps. Entertainment viewing, including video, audio, and gaming apps, grew 71 percent among mobile users over the prior year.
"As mobile consumption habits evolve, it’s imperative that app developers continue to add functionality and robustness to their offerings," says Monica Bannan, vice president of product leadership at Nielsen. “Although there does appear to be a limit to the number of apps people are willing to access on a monthly basis, they’re spending 31 percent more time than they were last year, proving that it’s the content that counts.”