Tiny Collection of Apps Dominating the Mobile Universe

Yesterday Nielsen released data (which has strangely now been pulled from the site) showing that smartphone users were spending about 30 hours per month in Q4 2013 on mobile apps. That was up from just over 23 hours in the previous . . . quarter? year?. The chart below isn't clear on the comparison time frame. 

What's most interesting is that while time went up the average number of installed apps did not. Users on average had just under 27 apps on their handsets. That number was basically flat.

1403881981522

Interestingly, in May 2012, Nielsen reported that the average US smartphone owner had 41 apps on his/her phone vs. 32 apps in 2011. So either the calculation above is incorrect or the number of retained/active apps has declined. 

The following is comScore's top 15 US apps list for April 2014 (the most recent data available):

The internet -- as represented by apps, which now take up 51% of digital media time -- is shrinking. The list of top mobile ad revenue recipients is even shorter than the top apps list.

Forget the percentage specifics in the chart below; the point is the list itself. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pandora are all "publishers," though in all but Pandora's case they're ad networks too. YP is a publisher but on the list as an ad network. Millennial Media is also a network. 

If we look at all these data together what we see is a mobile app universe dominated by a tiny collection of apps vs. the total universe of 1.2 million iPhone apps. An even smaller number of publishers/networks collect the majority of mobile ad revenue.