The prediction that mobile apps would be less popular than the mobile web has been discredited by research that shows Facebook and games are instead increasing application usage.
The premise that users will move away from using native apps on their smartphones to using HTML5 sites that offer the same functionality has not occurred, according to the research company Flurry. Instead, use of mobile websites in the US has dropped by almost a quarter in the last year, despite consumers spending longer on their phones - with the research suggesting that even more time is being spent using apps. The research was carried out using data from millions of smartphones and found that gaming is by far the most popular category, taking up almost 32% of people's time, followed by Facebook with a 17% share.
This indifference for the mobile web in favour of mobile apps could present a problem for Google, because it is not able to follow a user's activity from inside an app. Google's mobile app development team is addressing this by creating an offering that links to indexable in-app content for developers.
It's not all bad news for Google; it has been found that far more mobile advertising money is spent with it than time spent on its products. According to researching house eMarketer, although users spend about 18% of their time within Google's browsers where it shows ads or within properties such as YouTube, it received nearly half (49%) of mobile ad revenue.
But Facebook only received 18% of the mobile ad spend - despite people spending 17% of their time on its mobile offerings. Other apps are seeing similar behaviour and are losing out in the mobile advertising arena. Even gaming apps, which command 65% of the time spent on a smartphone, only receive 32% of the mobile ad spend.
One conclusion is clear from this research: apps have won and the mobile web is taking a back seat, despite so many experts predicting the contrary. Every company, including Google, will have to adjust to this app-centric reality.