Digital Innovation
6 mins read

Flurry Analytics State of Mobile: Europe Edition

For the second time ever, Flurry Analytics released its report on the state of mobile app usage across key markets in Europe. Flurry is a tool used by developers and marketers to measure and analyze consumer activity across their application portfolios. Flurry currently supports iOS and Android operating systems; as well as Apple TV and the Apple Watch. For more, see here.

Over the last year, the global Flurry footprint grew to track more than 940,000 applications, across 2.1 billion devices, in 10 billion sessions a day. In this context, we define app usage as a user opening an app and recording what we call a “session.”

Top European Trends

  • Overall EU
    • The usage we’re seeing across the region maps back to the global figures we saw approximately 6 months ago.
    • Phablets adoption is growing in markets where Android is the dominant operating system.
    • Perhaps seeing an opportunity to ramp-up their business chops following the Brexit vote, German and French mobile users turned to their Business and Finance apps more in 2016 than in 2015, with session growth up 69% and a staggering 106% respectively.
  • United Kingdom
    • Overall app usage (by sessions) grew 28%
    • Much like the global mobile community, British mobile users turned to their phones to perform a combination of social and professional tasks. Messaging and Social application sessions increased by 46% and Utilities and Productivity application sessions were up by 45% in 2016.
  • France
    • Overall app usage (by sessions) grew 16% (mapping closest back to the global average of 11%)
    • After hosting the Euro Cup last year, Sports app sessions increased by 190% throughout 2016.
  • Germany
    • Overall app usage (by sessions) grew 25%
    • German got a lot more social on their phones in 2016, with Messaging and Social application sessions up an impressive 96%.
    • Germany has biggest market share for phablets, with Samsung securing 44% of the total active devices in the country.

Across Europe, Flurry Analytics is used by over 35,200 companies, installed on over 189,900 apps, with 460 million monthly active users.

When looking into mobile usage locally, one major trend emerged in our report: European mobile usage looks a lot like global usage did 6 months ago, still ascending on the growth curve, but slowing considerably. In 2016, app usage across the three key markets of the United Kingdom, France and Germany grew by 23%.

Sports and Messaging and Social apps saw the most year-over-year session growth in Germany and the UK, with 96% and 46% increases respectively. While French mobile users were, perhaps, inspired by the Brexit vote and chose to become more business savvy, as seen with the session uptick of 106% in Business and Finance app sessions.

Mobile users in the UK hop on their phones almost as soon as they wake up, around 7:30AM. Not to be outdone, Germans tend to wake up about 30 minutes before their British brethren with mobile usage ramping up around the 7am hour.

French users wake a little later and are slow to turn to their devices in the morning. The first big jump in activity actually happens around the hours of Noon and 1:00PM, where they look to be spending more time with their phones than in the office, with their co-workers.

Perhaps most interestingly British phone usage continually climbs to its apex starting at around 4:00 PM, continuing through the “peak-pub hours” and dropping dramatically off at around 10:00 PM.

Top Global Trends

  • The burgeoning trend of ‘Communitainment’ (or, social sharing of media) is driving mobile consumers to spend more than 2 hours/day on Social and Messaging apps.
  • The average mobile consumer spends just under 5 hours a day on their smartphones.
  • Shopping applications saw over 17 billion sessions in 2016; effectively changing retail window shoppers into mobile impulse buyers.

Compared to 2015, global app usage grew by 11% in 2016. In previous years, we’ve seen all app categories grow in tandem; however, for 2016 year the story is different. In 2016 mobile apps started eating their own, with session and time-spent growth in some app categories occurring at the expense of others. While Messaging and Social apps use rose year-over-year by 44%, Personalization apps (like emoji keyboards) declined by 46%. One possible reason for the steep decline is that Personalization features were increasingly included in operating systems throughout the last year.

Application Category Deep Dive

When we looked into 2016’s most notable categories, here’s how time-spent trends shook out both globally and in Europe:

2016: The Year Social Ate Media: Time spent in Messaging and Social apps grew by 44% globally, proving to be the driver that helped mobile achieve its year-over-year time-spent growth of 69%.

All of this is the result of a trend we call “Communitainment”, or the social sharing of user-generated content and media, from articles to video. But there is only so much time in the day, meaning minutes spent on Social and Messaging apps are minutes not spent in other app categories like News. In other words, “Communitainment” is eating the lunch of legacy media, and of many pure digital publishers.

Sticky Apps Tied to Daily Habits: Some of the most successful app categories throughout the years have tapped into the mobile addict population. They’re also apps that rely on live data, such as Business and Finance (up 43% globally in time-spent) and Sports (up 25% globally). The Sports category was especially popular across Europe, with app sessions increasing by a whopping 90%. The Euro Cup and the super-buzzy Olympics in Rio were most likely the driving forces behind this bump in this category.

Video Killed the Gaming Star: Gaming, the app category once known as “the darling of the mobile industry,” saw time-spent decline by 4% globally, compared to a 11% decline across the UK, Germany and France.

One reason is user habits – rather than play through obstacles, users are just paying their way through games. This may explain the strong increase in gaming revenues reported by Apple’s app store. Also, gaming remains a hit-driven industry. Last year’s main hit, Pokémon GO, faded relatively fast, as consumers lost daily interest in the game, only returning for marquee holiday events. Another notable hit, Super Mario Run, was released too late in the year to make a difference in the overall engagement numbers.

Shopping Apps Spell the Doom and Gloom of Brick and Mortars: It was hard to miss the disappointing post-holiday news from major retailers. This story looks to be a split decision in the mobile world, with Shopping apps continuing to gain global popularity, growing 31%, however European consumers weren’t as fast forgo their local shopping centres. Mobile users across the continent stepped away from their shopping applications, causing a 15% decrease in sessions throughout the last year. This anomaly isn’t shocking, when you look at the political and economic shake-ups that occurred in the last year across the region.

Form Factor Refresh

As forecasted in last year’s global report, phablets (devices with screens between 5” and 6.9”) are becoming the dominant form factor around the world, capturing 41% of market share. Harking back to earlier findings, here is where we see Europe trailing behind global usage trends again, with medium phones still reigning supreme, with 47% market share in the UK, 44% in Germany and 46% in France.

The OS Says it All

Notably, across Europe, we see phablet adoption is growing in markets where Android is the dominant operating system. This is led by Germany, which saw 44% of the total active devices in the country captures by Samsung. Throughout the next year, we expect phablet share in iOS-dominant countries will continue to eat away at medium phones, completely eliminate small phones.

10 Years of the Smartphone 

As the iPhone celebrates its first decade, the mobile app industry has grown into a dog-eat-dog world. The decelerating rate of global growth could signal market maturity, saturation or simply the end of the app gold rush. Especially considering Europe’s 6-month mobile trend delay, there’s no better time for local developers to innovate, and possibly lessen the inevitable industry pause seen broadly on a global scale throughout most of 2016.

We are excited to see what app developers do in the next decade and watch which industry they chose to disrupt, again. Whatever it is, the Flurry and Yahoo EMEA teams will be by their side, providing everything they need to build better apps and stronger businesses.