900 billion hours on mobile apps


As inhabitants of Earth’s digital world we spent 900 billion hours on mobile apps in 2016.

That is to say, all of us connected to the internet – around 3.2 billion people – used our mobile apps for 900 billion hours last year – or on average we spent 281.25 hours out of last year hammering away at the apps on our little hand-held magic machines.

And while that sounds like a lot, it averages out to only .032 hours out of our lives last year we spent on mobile apps – two hours out of each day for Android users.

Okay, so those are all averages and, let’s face it, some of us spend way more time on our mobile phones in general and on apps in particular: Facebook, for example.

Still and all, we spend as digital citizens of the world a whole bunch of minutes using the apps installed or downloaded on our phones.

The figures come from App Annie’s 2016 Retrospective on app usage. App Annie is the most trusted and respected app data analysis and insights company.

“Total time spent in apps worldwide increased by over 150 billion hours year over year, reaching nearly 900 billion hours in 2016,” according to the App Annie report. “On a daily basis, this translates to an average of roughly two hours per Android phone user.

“The increase in total time was broad-based. Most countries experienced over 20% year-over-year growth, with the US growing by roughly 25%. Worldwide, the top three categories by absolute growth on Android phones in 2016 were Communication, Social and Videos Players & Editors. Within these categories, three mega apps — Chrome Browser, Facebook, and YouTube — were the biggest contributors of absolute growth in their respective categories.”

And what do we do with those apps? On those apps? We shop.

“Retail apps flourished in 2016 — netting more downloads, revenue and engaged users than ever before. Mobile earned 44% of retailers’ online traffic, totaling 31% of sales in 2016,” according to App Annie’s Alexandra Kaufman. “Time spent in Shopping apps grew 30% since 2015, reaching over 125 million hours for November in the US. Retailers are expanding sales for shopping-centric holidays beyond more than just one day in order to undercut the competition, such as with Cyber Monday — the Monday following Black Friday — morphing into Cyber Week.”

As one might imagine, given the increased number of hours spent on apps in 2016, downloads also increased in 2016.

“Like total time, worldwide download growth in 2016 followed roughly the same trajectory as in the previous year,” according to the App Annie report. “This resulted in annual downloads reaching over 90 billion, an increase of more than 13 billion across the iOS App Store and Google Play. As in 2015, Google Play accounted for most of this growth (especially in emerging markets — see the next section). iOS downloads increased more in 2016 than they did in 2015. This was driven largely by China, which accounted for nearly 80% of iOS download growth.”

While retailers did very well with shopping apps in 2016, publishers of content didn’t do as well as they might have expected but, overall, saw $35 million in revenue produced through apps last year.

The biggest winner among revenue producers, however, was games.

“Consistent with previous years, games were by far the revenue leaders,” explains the App Annie report. “In 2016, games generated 75% and 90% of all app store revenue on the iOS App Store and Google Play, respectively. On the iOS App Store, the Role Playing Game subcategory alone generated half of all revenue growth in 2016.”

Can we expect this growth in app download, use and revenue to continue at such a rate? Probably not suggests the report.

“2016 made clear that as a market matures, its download growth rate will eventually level off,” the report suggests. “This happened in the US, Germany and Japan. It is important to note that although download growth has slowed in these markets, each one still generated an extremely large volume of absolute downloads. In other words, the rate of new installs has leveled off at high levels in these developed markets.”


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