Mobile attention is increasing - where does it go?

Posted by on February 10, 2019 · 1 min read

It’s a well known fact that people spend increasing amounts of time on mobile devices. Data also indicates that the average number of apps on an individual’s mobile device is shrinking. As a result, industry analysts conclude that the majority of a mobile user’s time will only be given to only a few apps.

This conclusion is naive and missing data. Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are going to continue increasing the number of users that interact with its services as they become more ubiquitous. However, once people download and use these apps, they won’t command MORE time than they already do.

Thought experiment: if I’m already spending 10 min surfing Facebook a day, why would I spend an incremental 10 min on the same app? It doesn’t change that much to warrant this kind of conclusion.

So where does all the extra time go? Contrary to what people’s intuitions are about the law of averages, the majority of user’s time will be spent on apps that are most relevant to them when they find them.

The number one assumption is an improvement in app discovery. I have a firm belief that we are in the early innings of app development. I consistently see very engaging apps that are geared to very specific audiences with very high retention rates. This is to say that a mobile user’s ability to find what they like is prohibited by the technology that exists to find what is mosts relevant to them.