by Adam Lella, Senior Marketing Insights Analyst, comScore
If you could only have one app on your smartphone, what would it be? It’s a fun thought experiment to consider. What’s that one essential service on your smartphone you just couldn’t go without?
Would you feel out of the loop if you didn’t have Facebook to see what your friends and family are up to? Would you dread having to price compare across different retailers without your trusted Amazon app? Would you feel lost without access to your Gmail? Would you literally get lost without Google Maps?
comScore recently surveyed 1,033 smartphone users with this exact question, only we let them choose up to three apps they couldn’t go without. We released some of these findings in The 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report, and the results were fascinating. While the highest engagement apps include social media and entertainment platforms such as Facebook, Pandora, YouTube and Spotify, we found the apps that people list as their ‘most essential’ tend be more functional and utilitarian, in that they provide services that serve more practical use cases. Although Facebook was listed as the most essential app, the next four that were ranked among users’ Top 3 were Gmail, Amazon, Google Maps and Google Search.
These four apps provide important services on a regular – often daily – basis for most users, but they aren’t designed for high engagement. In fact, the less time you spend on them, the better they are at doing their job. Interestingly, Facebook and YouTube are both among the most essential and highest engagement, which is really a sweet spot in the mind of the user and is why these are arguably the two most powerful apps out there currently.
Another interesting finding from the report is that the apps listed as the most essential have a strong correlation with being positioned on users’ smartphone home screens. It intuitively makes sense, as these are apps that are used on a consistent and frequent basis, so users often want easy access to them. From our survey, we know that 80% of smartphone users move apps to their home screen, and 61% of these home screen curators list how often they use the app as the top factor influencing their decision to do so. “How often,” or frequency of usage, is an important distinction from “most used,” or highest engagement. People are saving their most valuable smartphone ‘real estate’ for apps that provide functional services to them that they use often, but not necessarily for the apps that they spend the most time with.
For more insights on users’ ‘most essential’ apps, home screens and other mobile app behaviors, download The 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report today.