The shift in user time spent from PCs to mobile devices has resulted in a major disruption in digital media use – a move from Web to apps. While PCs are extensively, and even increasingly, used with Web browsers to access desired services and content, mobile device usage is dominantly app-based. The role and importance of apps are expected to increase as the mobile revolution continues and expands.
The number of downloads is a widely used metric, but insufficient for measuring the true success of mobile apps. The focus should be on what happens after the downloads: How many users keep using the apps? How much time is spent using the apps on average?
Reach and Engagement – Only Partly Related
It is interesting to note that reach and engagement as the key high-level metrics of success are only partially related and dependent on each other. The list of top apps by reach is quite different from the top list by time spent per user. As an example, although Facebook Messenger is a clear leader in terms of U.S. user reach with a monthly user base of 67 million users, WhatsApp Messenger seems to be more successful in engaging its much smaller user base. This is clearly evident from the big gap in the average time spent per user for each app, with WhatsApp users spending 4.5 more hours per month than their counterparts on Facebook Messenger. In addition to the broad international reach of WhatsApp, this difference in user engagement may be one reason why Facebook splashed up to $22 billion to acquire WhatsApp in 2014.
YouTube, a Leader of User Reach and Engagement
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