Yahoo Says Mobile Apps Rule, Browser Is Bygone

A Yahoo executive said mobile developers should focus on apps because consumers spend 90 percent of their time in mobile apps as opposed to browsers.

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NEW YORK – When it comes to mobile, the browser has been sidelined. Developers instead ought to focus on enhancing the in-app experience and making apps more compelling, as users are spending more time than ever on their mobile devices, according to a Yahoo executive.

Simon Khalaf, senior vice president of Publishing Products at Yahoo, in the opening keynote at the Yahoo Mobile Developer Conference here, said 90 percent of time consumers spend in mobile is in apps, and the remaining 10 percent is spent in browsers. This figure is up from the first quarter of this year when consumers spent 88 percent of the time on mobile devices in apps.

Khalaf based his insights on an analysis of data from Flurry Analytics, which is now in 720,000 apps across two billion mobile devices, he said. Khalaf was founder and CEO of Flurry when Yahoo acquired the company last year. Today marked the first anniversary of Yahoo’s acquisition of Flurry, he said.

“We’re on two billion devices; this beats the distribution of clean water and even organized religion,” Khalaf said. He noted that mobile is “taking over the media industry. The time of the browser has been sidelined.”

Khalaf added that “communities have become the distribution channel for content. SEO [search engine optimization], SEM [search engine marketing] and blue links are gone – because nobody’s using the browser… Media companies have to learn a new game.”

In a blog post, Khalaf added, “Effectively, the browser has been sidelined on mobile. This has major implications on the digital industry in general and the content and media industry in particular. Historically, the media industry has relied almost entirely on search for user and traffic acquisition, building entire teams around SEO and SEM on the desktop Web. But search engines are predominantly accessed from a browser. If mobile users aren’t using browsers, the media industry will have to look for new approaches to content discovery and traffic acquisition.”

In addition, the Flurry data indicates that messaging and entertainment apps have pulled significant market share from gaming, which is now only 14 percent of all time spent on mobile. Time spent on social and messaging apps has increased 50 percent and time spent on entertainment has increased 240 percent, while time spent on gaming has decreased 36 percent. Social, messaging and entertainment apps now account for 51 percent of time spent on mobile, Khalaf said.

“After putting the desktop Web in the rear view mirror in Q2 2011, and eclipsing television in Q4 2014, mobile and its apps have cemented their position as the top media channel and grabbed more time spent from the average American consumer,” Khalaf wrote in his post. In Q2 of 2015, American consumers spent, on average, 3 hrs and 40 minutes per day on their mobile devices. That is a 35 percent increase in time spent from one year ago and a 24 percent increase from Q4 2014. In just six short months, the average time American consumers spend on their phones each day increased by 43 minutes.”

Khalaf also noted that Tumblr is the best content delivery platform around and announced that Tumblr now supports In-App Sharing. In-App Sharing enables developers to let users share their creations with their Tumblr followers with one click. When a Tumblr user who doesn’t have the app sees the post, the ability to download the app will be a seamless part of their experience. App developers will also be able to see engagement on content shared by their users, such as how many times it has been re-blogged, clicked on or liked.

Meanwhile, with mobile users turning to their devices for more than three hours a day, mobile has eclipsed television where viewers spend less than three hours of their time each day, Khalaf said.

"Television industry subscribers are declining," he said. We want to work with the TV industry… Cut the cord on your end before the consumer cuts it at the other end. Don't keep it shackled by the cable industry; let the content out."

Brandishing his smartphone, Khalaf added: "This is your cable box and the consumer is your channel."