Smartphone users spend only 20% of their time on the mobile web

I was talking with a friend the other day about the growth of the app ecosystem but also the importance and continual growth of the web over time as well. He shared a shocking statistic with you that I wanted to share with all of you. It’s no secret that more and more people are using their smartphones as the primary way that they use the Internet. Over the next 5 years a completely new wave of Internet users will come online and a smartphone will be at the core of their experience.

What blew my mind is that 80% of the time people are using apps, only 20% of their time is spent on the mobile web. The question is, will this 20% go up as more mobile users get online over the next 3-5 years?


While I grew up with the web and still use it every single day I have noticed that I’m using apps more and more. It’s great to look back at how things used to be but as a startup founder I am always looking ahead, trying to see how the world is going to be different 3, 5, heck ten years from now.

I see a world that is moving from desktop computers to phones and tablets and an ecosystem within these devices that favors apps over our long-loved web. Google is playing catch-up and Facebook is getting 59% of its ad revenue from mobile. Welcome to the brave new world that is today, don’t blink though, you might wake-up and find out it’s tomorrow.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Bill Roy April 25, 2014, 7:49 am

    Apps will play a major part of development, more so than many of us ‘old timers’ realise. Desktops are now just a ‘tool’, the mobile is more personal and convenient for the small amounts of information that users generally require. This though creates a major problem for the likes of Google, FaceBook, and others for it means that new and novel ‘advertising line methods’ will become available – and with each new advertising line method introduced the present BIG players will have to go on a huge and continuous acquisition spree or be left losing their revenue streams.

  • Morgan April 25, 2014, 7:51 am

    @Bill – good point, that being said, 18% of the time people are using Facebook, almost as much as the mobile web itself so I think they’re in the best position of anyone right now.

  • Bill Roy April 25, 2014, 8:35 am

    I agree about FaceBook being in the best position, but, and I think it may be a big ‘but’, they are already having to pursue a policy of constant predatory acquisition, which of course holds them at the 18% – the question is how long can they maintain such an expensive policy and maintain revenue. The number of start-ups having new variations on net usage by users is substantial, and many of them, whether they will likely eventually succeed or not, will have to be acquired to maintain the pre-eminent position. Of course Google is also likely to suffer similarly for ‘apps sharing’ of information is likely to severely indent on number of searches in the future as will targeted niche search engines. The problem with being a ‘Behemoth’ is that the bigger you are the more you have to defend. (Just my opinion of course.)

  • Ted April 25, 2014, 10:34 am

    20 percent? I’m spending way less than that on the mobile web! Why would I? To look at mostly still non-responsive websites on such a small screen?! This fact is not a surprise by any means, makes perfect sense. Without knowing the stats, I bet, the numbers of mobile web users are higher, the bigger the screen gets.

    I use the web a lot, I still spend the same amount of time on my laptop as I have done the last few years, maybe even more. It’s just that I now have the ability to be online at times when, back in the old days of 2005 or so, I was not willing and able to walk around town with the laptop around my neck, checking restaurant menus and train schedules.

    I’m online now (using apps) at times when I was not able to be be online at all pre-smartphone, but that doesn’t mean I’m using the web or my laptop less than before. But when I’m out and about, iphone in my hand, yes, I definitely prefer apps and use the web only when absolutely necessary.

    The internet was out at my house for a few hours the other day and the kids complained they had to do stuff and type on the small screen instead of using the laptop and they hated it. So I am always careful with my predicitons: it all has its place and its use, but it doesn’t mean the world will become a completely app-filled mobile one. And the other thing: Five/ ten years from now, it’s all going to be different again, some genius will always come up with something new.

    On a related note: You know, the funny thing about apps? Remember when we all had to buy software and hated all that updating, wishing for all the software ( app-lications) to go into what now is called the “cloud” and just have a user surface to work with? Well, apps are the same way now software used to be 10 years ago: they all have to reside on your device, they all need constant updating and use up your resources…. time for the next step and do with them as the software industry did with desktop software! Apps in the cloud and a user surface only on the phone….ooops, but wouldn’t that called ‘the mobile web’ then?! ๐Ÿ™‚
    It’s an exciting new connected world!

  • Nick April 25, 2014, 3:45 pm

    Desktop computers will never go away. Someone has to develop those apps and no, they can not be developed from a tablet. I will go kicking and screaming before I give up my dual 27 inch 16 GB RAM desktop with two NAS systems a REAL keyboard and a real mouse.


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