Nielsen’s App Playbook is a survey of almost 4,000 app users on both smartphone (~3,700) and tablet (~1,000). It set out to document usage behavior for mobile apps as opposed to mobile web use. They found that people download more apps than they need (only using about a quarter of those they download), but they spend a good chunk of time with the ones they do use:
“…adults (18+) spend an average of 43 hours and 31 minutes per month connecting with content through an app or mobile web browser. Among African-American and Hispanic adults (18+), that average monthly time spent was even higher, at nearly 53 hours and 49 hours respectively!”
This is almost 10% of the time that these adults are awake (roughly 12% for African-Americans and Hispanics). While not broken out by Baby Boomer vs. Millennial, these numbers dwarf TV and print numbers. A study promoted on Yahoo! Finance puts Boomers at about 28 hours of TV viewing per month and fewer than 12 hours of print consumption. Millennials are much lower—about half that.
App usage is not really a focused activity for Nielsen respondents unless using an app as a tool to kill time counts as focused activity.
“70% of app downloaders who own a smartphone said they used apps while alone or by themselves, 68% used apps while they were “bored” or “killing time” and 61% while waiting for something or someone. Sixty-five percent of tablet users use apps while they are alone.”
The take-away for publishers? Don’t try to build the be-all, end-all Swiss Army Knife app; build an engaging, addictive, informative widget that will satisfy downtime requirements. This does not mean lightweight info snacks only; there is plenty of time for users to consume the meal you serve, but everyone loves a yummy appetizer — especially while watching TV…