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The State of Mobile: personalisation apps, phablets on the rise

Mobile app usage continues to see serious growth, with the rise of phablet-sized devices allowing mobile to eat up an increasingly large proportion of the media industry. Those are some of the key findings from Flurry’s latest State of Mobile report.

According to Flurry, overall app usage grew by 58% in 2015. With the exception of Games, every app category posted year-over-year growth with Personalisation, News & Magazines and Productivity leading the way with triple-digit growth.

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What’s promising is that much of that growth appears to have come from existing smartphone users. Right now Flurry tracks more than 2.1-billion smart devices, worldwide on a monthly basis, meaning that it has a better handle on global app usage than most. In 2015, it estimates, 40% of the 58% total growth in sessions came from existing users, compared to 20% in 2014 and 10% in 2013.

In terms of the fastest growing app categories, Personalisation was the big winner, growing more than 344% over the course of the year. Apps in this category range from Android lock-screens to Emoji keyboards. The latter was the source of the majority of growth in this category. These apps mostly come in the shape of keyboards and give consumers the ability to share customised correspondence in their favorite messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Line and Snapchat. Small wonder then that Kim Kardashian’s app “Kimoji” skyrocket to the number 1 spot on the Apple AppStore, on its launch day.

News and Magazine apps grew 141% in 2015, followed by Productivity (119%), and Lifestyle and Shopping at 80%.

Mobile is media

It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that mobile is absorbing media, largely driven by the rise of phablet-sized devices According to Flurry, the year-over-year session growth rates of the News & Magazine, Sports, and Music, Media, & Entertainment categories on phablets and all devices combined shows that Growth in News & Magazines apps on phablets was 4.8x that of all devices, meaning phablet users are engaging in these apps at a much higher rate than the average smart device user. A similar pattern emerged for Sports and Music, Media & Entertainment apps, at 4.6x and 4x respectively. It appears that the extra inch of real estate has made the phablet the ultimate media consumption device.

That’s also reflected in the fact that time spent on phablets grew 334% year-over-year (2.9 times more than the average), compared to 117% for all form factors. Flurry’s assertion that such high growth means the phablet is destined to be cable television’s “long-awaited digital nemesis” is probably slightly hyperbolic. It is worth noting however that time spent on mobile overtook time spent on television in 2015.

As Flurry notes, Phablets have become a nigh-on unstoppable media consumption device. It reports that 27% of all new devices activated for Christmas this year were phablets and 50% of all Android devices activated in the same timeframe were phablets.

It further notes that the phablet is on track to become the dominant form factor by October of next year.

With the phablet’s dominance though comes the demise of small phone, which Flurry predicts will be extinct by the second quarter of 2016.

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