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Consumers use smartphones for 195 minutes per day, but spend only 25% of that time on communications

Martin Scott Principal Analyst
Stephen Sale Research Director, Consumer Services

IP messaging services are rivalling social networking services in terms of penetration in some countries, with a potentially dramatic impact on legacy messaging services.

The average amount of time that consumers spend using smartphones per day almost doubled between 2011 and 2013, from 98 minutes to 195 minutes, according to new primary research from Analysys Mason. Use of communication platforms and apps fell from 49% to 25% of all time spent using the device. Furthermore, 72% of our panellists used IP (that is, over-the-top (OTT)) messaging services. Analysys Mason analysed the real-world smartphone usage of consumers in France, Germany, the UK and the USA between mid-August and the end of October 2013 in the report Consumer smartphone usage 2014: OTT communication services.

The amount of time spent ‘communicating’ on smartphones is increasing, but has diminished in relative terms

The relationship between a consumer and their smartphone is becoming more significant in terms of time and therefore also engagement. The average amount of time that our panellists spent using smartphones per day almost doubled, from 98 minutes in 2011 to 195 minutes in 2013 (see Figure 1). This means that communication, though roughly stable in absolute terms, is declining as a proportion of overall time spent using smartphones: use of communication platforms and apps fell from 49% to 25% of all time spent using the device.

Figure 1: Average time per day spent using various functions and apps on smartphones, 2011 and 2013 [Source: Analysys Mason and Nielsen, 2014]


IP messaging services have achieved mass adoption in Germany, and the UK is set to follow

The 25% of handset use dedicated to communications is not solely the domain of mobile operators: OTT services are used by a significant majority of smartphone users. Our analysis of consumers’ usage confirmed that SMS and email are the dominant text-based communication services, with high penetration across age groups, but an increasing proportion of the smartphone user base use IP messaging services. 72% were active users, compared to 45% in 2011.

IP messaging services are rivalling social networking services in terms of penetration in some countries, with a potentially dramatic impact on legacy messaging services. European observers have witnessed strong adoption curves for WhatsApp Messenger in Spain and the Netherlands, and now in Germany, where 90% of our panellists used it. The UK messaging market is currently on the same trajectory.

VoIP services have yet to achieve mass-market dominance in any countries, according to our analysis of app usage, although penetration is increasing. The highest penetration was in the UK, where 38% of panellists used such services during the period of the study.

Analysys Mason is analysing consumer smartphone usage in a series of reports in 2014

Analysys Mason’s consumer smartphone usage report series analyses the smartphone usage of consumers in France, Germany, the UK and the USA between mid-August and the end of October 2013. The analysis is based on data provided by Nielsen, using an application developed by Arbitron Mobile. The first report in this series, Consumer smartphone usage 2014: OTT communication services, focuses specifically on the use of IP communications services and their relationship with traditional voice and messaging services.

The event-level data to which we have access enables us to produce in-depth analysis of app usage, data traffic (cellular and Wi-Fi) as well as voice and SMS usage. You can watch a recording of Analysys Mason’s presentation of initial findings from these research reports at: Webinar – Consumer smartphone usage: real-world insights into device usage (requires registration).