Why Your Company Needs an App
Consider how much you use your Smartphone. Do you use it when you wake up? When you are waiting at the bus stop? On your lunch break? How about at the coffee shop on your way home? Perhaps right before you fall asleep? When you think about how much you use your smartphone, it’s not surprising that we spend more time connecting to the Internet through smartphones than through traditional computers (1).
Marketing requires businesses to consider the place in which their customers engage with their company. For many companies — especially those who target Millennials — the answer is their smartphones. The growth rate of smartphone users and the amount of time they spend using mobile apps or accessing the web through their mobile device is ever increasing and becoming a necessary tool for businesses to connect with their users.
Global Changes in Smartphone Use
Of the 7.7 billion people in the world, WeAreSocial reports that 1.7 billion of the world population is active on social media via their smartphones — an increase of 23% between 2014 and 2015 (2). Nielsen, a leading American global company that studies consumers and their behaviour, found that in December 2012, Americans spent 28 hours using smartphone apps and on the mobile web. The same statistic rose to 34 percent in December 2013 (3), and to 43.5 hours in December 2014 (4). There were similar findings in the UK, Italy, and in other countries (3).
Nielsen also found that Smartphones are increasingly changing our routine. For example, those studied in the UK produced findings that they reached for their phones on average 9 times per day in December 2013, up from 5.5 in the beginning of the same year (3).
Use of Apps on Smartphones
Smartphone users in the United States increased their frequency of mobile app use “from less than five sessions per day in December 2012 to an average of at least seven daily sessions using their smartphones at the end of 2013” (3). Almost all of the countries studied found mobile apps were the most used function of smartphones, with the greatest growth in apps for entertainment and media. The United States, for example, found that Americans spent 18% of their time with apps playing games, 15% accessing entertainment, or 29% using social media (2).
Users of Apps
Time and again, young adults are early adopters of innovation. Not surprisingly, TechCrunch reports that Millennials are the primary users of apps today (5). If this age group is your target market, it’s necessary to have an app to engage with them where they are most — on their smartphones. Nielsen found that this consumer segment in America owns the most smartphones in the country: of the 77 million American Millennials, 85% of those aged 18–24 own smartphones, 86% of those aged 25–34 own them as of the second-quarter in 2014 (6). This is an increase from the same quarter in 2013, where 77% and 80% owned smartphones, respectively (6).
The Future of Apps
Apps present a mobile-friendly version of websites that fit mobile screens. As screens get smaller, such as the Apple Watch and other wearables, apps may need to evolve with them. For example, Business Insider reports that apps may be integrated into web experience through one portal where apps will no longer appear on home screens, but rather as bookmarks (7). However, this does not mean the end of apps. It just means, like with all technology, they will need to evolve with changes in technology and consumer trends.
Image: “Year-on-Year Growth.” http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2015/01/21/2015-worldwide-internet-mobile-social-media-trends-get-376-pages-data/ [Slide 7]
Graph: “Hours Spent on mobile Apps and Web (U.S.).” Original image. Information via References (3) and (4).
Graph: “The Growth of Mobile Phone Usage.” http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2014/emerging-trends-in-mobile-and-what-they-mean-for-your-business.html