The Desktop Audience is Still Larger Than the Mobile Audience in the US

March 14, 2018

Website visits are plateauing in the US – and the battle for visitors is increasingly being fought on smartphones. But despite mobile devices capturing the majority of digital minutes, the US still features more desktop than mobile unique visitors, according to a report from comScore [download page].

The Global Digital Future in Focus report examined audiences across 13 key markets. As part of the analysis, mobile unique visitors were compared to desktop unique visitors as of December 2017.

Within the US, mobile unique visitors totaled 90% of desktop unique visitors, making it one of only 5 of the 13 markets where the mobile audience was smaller than the desktop audience.

By contrast, the mobile audience in India is almost 4 times larger than the desktop audience, while in Indonesia it’s about 2.5 times larger.

Notably, the mobile audiences in those markets are largely unduplicated with desktop audiences, meaning that they’re largely an exclusive mobile audience.

Within the US, the mobile audience largely overlaps with the desktop audience. That tallies with prior data from comScore, which revealed that the mobile-only share of the digital population stood at 12% in the US as of May 2017.

Indeed, the latest report covering December 2017 indicates that in the US the desktop-only audience remains larger than the mobile-only audience. That’s despite the mobile-only audience share growing by almost 5% points in just a year.

Here are some more takeaways from comScore’s report.

Mobile Minutes Far Surpass Desktop Minutes

The reason why more digital minutes in the US are consumed on mobile devices than desktops – despite a greater desktop audience – is heavier usage on mobile.

In fact, mobile users in the US consume about 2.5 times more minutes per month than desktop users.

As a result, mobile devices combined for 70.3% of all digital minutes in the US in December 2017, up from 66% in January 2016. Smartphones alone captured 61.9% of digital minutes, up from 54.5% in January 2016, as tablets’ share of digital minutes declined over that time period.

Apps Continue to Hog Mobile Minutes

The extent to which applications dominate mobile minutes is remarkably consistent across the markets tracked, ranging from a low of 83% in the UK to a high of 95% in Argentina.

Within the US, apps were responsible for 88% of mobile consumption in December, per the report. That compares with 87% in June, according to prior comScore data, with app usage at that time relatively equal on smartphones (88%) and tablets (87%).

More Than 160 Sites/Apps Reach At Least 1 in 10 People in the US

The report details a slight increase in the number of sites and apps in the US that boast at least 10% reach in the US. That figure now exceeds 160, per the report, the highest of any of the markets tracked.

Within the US, the top 5 apps by reach are: Facebook; YouTube; Google Search; FB Messenger; and Snapchat. The UK joins the US as the only 2 markets of the 13 in which Snapchat is within the top 5.

Interestingly enough, though, Snapchat’s share of minutes among the 4 major social networking apps (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter) is higher in France than in the US and UK.

Meanwhile, among messaging apps, Facebook Messenger accounts for virtually all messaging minutes in the US, unlike in most other countries where WhatsApp dominates.

This preference for Messenger at the expense of WhatsApp, which is seen only in the US, Canada, the UK and France (in this latest study), has also been documented in previous research.

Social App Minutes Are Highly Concentrated; Gaming Minutes Aren’t

The app market is characterized by its narrow concentration in consumption: a report released last year by comScore indicated that smartphone app users spend almost half (49%) of their app time with their single favorite one.

This latest report demonstrates that app market concentration continues to be high in the US, but with at least one notable exception.

That’s Games: the top 5 gaming properties account for just one-third (34.1%) of all gaming app time in the US. It’s worth noting that these are “properties” (which can contain multiple apps) – not individual apps. In fact, the top 5 individual apps capture just 14.7% combined share of the category’s app minutes.

By comparison, entertainment and communications categories are far more densely concentrated. For example, the top 5 Entertainment properties combine for 83.5% of time spent with that app category. The top 5 in Social Media (93.9%) and Instant Messaging (94.2%) capture even more app time in those respective categories.

Mobile Leads in Video Minutes, But Desktop Isn’t Left Behind

Finally, comScore’s analysis reveals that more than two-thirds of video views (68%) in the US for the top 100 properties in December 2017 occurred on mobile devices. That’s about on par with the comparable figure in the UK (69%), with both ahead of Canada (51%) in that regard.

But unlike in the UK, desktop is growing just as fast – if not faster – than mobile. Surprisingly, the growth in consumption for the top 100 digital video properties was higher on a year-over-year basis on desktops (+46%) than on mobiles (+41%).

The full report is available to download here.


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