50% of digital media time goes to smartphone apps

Study shows 'just how central to our lives the smartphone has become'

Smartphone apps now account for half of Americans' digital media time, according to a new study from comScore

The study found that time spent on smartphone apps eclipsed the share of time people spend using all other digital channels, including:

  • Desktops (32%);
  • Tablet apps (9%);
  • Internet on smartphones (7%); and
  • Internet on tablets (2%).

The conclusion that people spend more time than ever using their phone aligns with other research on how college students in particular spend their time. A study published earlier this year found that 97% of students admit to using their phones during class—and in another recent study, around 60% of students admit they might be "addicted" to their phones.

"While the smartphone app has been the most important access vehicle to the internet for some time, growing its share to a point where it now eclipses all other digital media platforms combined speaks to just how central to our lives the smartphone has become," Adam Lella writes in a comScore blog post.

Texting your students isn't "coddling" them

It's easy to see why smartphone apps are so popular—they are convenient, simple to access, and can provide users with everything from music to weather forecasts.

But with the increasing dominance of smartphone apps, it's important to ensure that users get the best possible experience, David Kirkpatrick notes in Marketing Dive.

According to Nancy Hua, CEO of mobile A/B testing service Apptimize, many app developers invest a lot of time and resources in creating products but fail to improve apps after their launch.

 "You're not going to get everything right the first time, so you have to have a plan for how you'll improve the app as you start to get user feedback and analytics," she says (Kirkpatrick, Marketing Dive, 9/6; Lella, comScore blog, 9/1). 

It's not all bad news. Phones can actually help support student success.


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