App usage increased 115 per cent year-on-year in 2013, according to analytics firm Flurry, with the success of messaging apps having a particularly significant impact.
Messaging apps, including social and photo sharing titles, saw usage triple during the year, a much bigger increase than for other app categories. (Flurry defines app usage as consumers launching an app and starting an app session).
According to the company, 2014 will be a “crucial” year as it will determine which messaging apps remain independent and well-used apps and which become “killer mobile platforms and distribution channels”.
Some messaging apps, such as LINE and KakaoTalk, started to evolve into platforms rather than standalone apps with the inclusion of games and sticker stores. LINE said in March it has seen 100 million games downloads via its messaging app.
In addition, an experiment in China by handset maker Xiaomi saw the company sell new smartphones through WeChat with 150,000 devices sold in less than 10 minutes through the app.
Flurry said these developments, along with Facebook’s successful entry into the paid mobile app install market, demonstrate the potential messaging and social apps have to become a mobile storefront for goods, whether digital or physical.
Looking at other app categories, Flurry found that utilities and productivity apps saw a 150 per cent year-on-year growth thanks to greater adoption of apps such as Evernote and Quip.
The Gaming category saw a 66 per cent growth during the year, despite concerns it would reach saturation point during the year.