While mobile web browsing is still the top single driver of mobile traffic, native data apps, such as social networking, multimedia and maps, now account for 50% of all mobile data volume.
Almost all smartphone users with a data plan activate their mobile web browser at least once a month, spending on average 300 minutes browsing the web, a figure that is comparable to mobile voice usage.
These are headline findings from a large-scale study of mobile phone usage conducted by mobile analytics specialists Zokem.
Using its proprietary on-device sensor technology to gather information its report is on a dataset of more than 10 000 smartphone users, including 6.5 million distinct smartphone application usage sessions in 16 countries during 2009 and 2010.
The above diagram gives an indication of what people do on the mobile Internet. The horizontal axis is the percentage of people using a particular application at least once per month, and the vertical axis gives the average number of minutes users spend with the application every month.
It shows for example that Facebook's native application is used by 12% with high face time of 188 minutes on average per month and that Twitter is used even more, averaging 311 minutes a month although it has a smaller monthly user base of only 4% of active smartphone users.
In this chart the first column shows that even though the web browser is the single most popular data application, it has only a small share of all device usage. This is due to offline and non-Internet related activities, such as text messaging, voice, calendar, camera, video and music playback that still take a big portion of mobile usage.
Considering only data applications (the second and third columns), web browsing, which only a few years ago was 70-80% of smartphone-driven Internet usage is shrinking in relative usage being displaced by the newer apps that are being used in preference to web browsing.
According to Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, founder of Zokem.
"App stores, even Google’s own Android Market Place, combined with a variety of non-browser based data applications pre-embedded in today’s smartphones, are now driving the growth of the mobile Internet”,
and in explaining why native apps are overtaking the web browser Verkasalo asks:
“Take your Android phone as an example, do you want to access YouTube with your browser if you have a shortcut on your home screen for the brilliantly working native YouTube app?”