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The Mobile Content Explosion

  
  
  

In October of 2013, Softbank Capital made a $1.5B USD investment in Supercell, the maker of two successful mobile games, giving Softbank a 51% ownership of the game maker. This investment caught the world’s attention.  It wasn’t just the rich $3B USD valuation Softbank placed on Supercell that intrigued onlookers, but more the speculation that Softbank and its CEO Masayoshi Son were onto a bigger trend.  Mr. Son has a solid track record in anticipating big shifts in worldwide markets in general and the tech industry in particular. In the mid-nineties Softbank was a publishing powerhouse. By the mid 2000s the company became an Internet powerhouse. Today, Softbank is the third largest wireless carrier in the world. So what does this investment signal about the big shift that Mr. Son is anticipating? At Flurry we believe he is placing bets on the Mobile Content Explosion that is taking place around us. 

Early Indicators Signal the Content Explosion

At Flurry, we have always looked at the applications being started on our platform as a leading indicator of the app economy’s health. This is very similar to how U.S. economists treat housing starts as a leading indicator for the national economy. Typically, developers engage with Flurry and start applications on our platform a couple of months before they list them on App Stores. So if the activity on Flurry increases, it signals that more apps (and content) will be available on the stores within a couple of months.

Looking at application starts on the Flurry network since January 2012, we see an increase in the quarterly growth rate.  This is in stark contrast to theories that the app ecosystem is congested. In fact, in just over 18 months, the rate of which new apps are being started on the Flurry network has nearly doubled as shown in the chart below. 

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While Flurry’s market share in analytics could have increased, we don’t believe it is the major factor in the acceleration of applications starts. Instead, we believe that we have entered a new phase of mobile content explosion, driven by rapidly changing consumer behavior.  Over the last two years, application developers and media companies have seen the shift from personal computers to smart mobile devices including phones and tablets that are now in the hands of over 1.2 billion people worldwide. They have also seen the wild and global success of gaming, utility and messaging applications such as LINE, Kakao, Snapchat and WhatsApp.  They are simply acting accordingly. With the hopes of reaching these 1.2 billion people with a press of a button, app developers and media companies are building mobile apps like never before.

There is an Audience for That

Pundits have criticized the increasing number of apps and have often claimed that while there are millions of apps out there, very few are being used. They also claim that a few app developers have the lion share of usage, especially in the United States and other mature markets such as Japan and South Korea. Earlier this year, a report from Comscore claimed that Facebook (and Instragram) accounted for 26% of all times spent on mobile. In its latest earnings reports, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg almost confirmed Comscore ‘s numbers and claimed that Facebook’s  share of people's time is larger than that of YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn, AOL and Yahoo combined. While Facebook’s reach and percentage of time spent are in a league of their own, there appears to be plenty of whitespace for others. In fact, just on the Flurry platform the number of independently owned app developers that have a worldwide audience of over 20 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) has jumped from 7 in Q1 2012 to 32 in Q3 2013. That is whopping 357% growth in 18 months. 

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In the same period, the number of app developers with an audience over one million MAU has risen from just under 400 to 875, a whopping 121% growth. 

 1M Uniques JPG resized 600

These numbers are simply unprecedented, especially because most of these app developers have risen organically, and not as a result of consolidation or through mergers and acquisitions. If anything, the market, its reach and the time spent on mobile is still with the “middle class”, or the mid-tail developers and content owners. Among the 1.2 billion device owners, app developers are finding millions of people to enjoy their apps and the content behind it.

Flurry’s numbers, which show the fast rise of app developers with large audiences, seem to indicate that worldwide, consumers with smart devices are still hungry for apps and mobile content, and app developers are building at increasing rates to feed this demand. We believe that once again, Softbank’s Masayoshi Son could once again be onto something really big. 

Xiaomi: The Apple (… and Netflix) of China

  
  
  

While most of the tech media has congregated outside the Moscone Center in San Francisco waiting for the new Apple tablet, Kara Swisher of All Things D is across the street at the GMIC conference interviewing Lei Jun, the CEO of Xiaomi. Mr. Jun has plenty to talk about. Xiaomi’s newest flagship smartphone the Mi-3 sold 100,000 units in less than 86 seconds and the first batch of its flat panel TVs all sold in less than 2 minutes. Not even Apple can boast of such velocity driven by legions of devoted fans.

The Rise of Xiaomi as a Serious Smartphone Player

Since its first smartphone launch in August 2011, Xiaomi has been on a growth tear in its native China. Based on devices tracked by Flurry, Xiaomi’s installed base of phones has quadrupled since the third quarter last year. In a previous research report, Flurry reported that Xiaomi has become a serious challenger in the smartphone market capturing over 6% of the Chinese market, which is the largest smartphone market in the world. This is more than the market share of HTC and Lenovo and it happened in less than two years.

xiaomi intalled based

Media and Entertainment: Xiaomi’s Entry Point to the Market

While consumers rave about Xiaomi’s slick design and performance, it is the company’s software and content strategy that is fueling its growth. Its early focus on mobile content has given it a clear differentiation from other device manufacturers. In addition, its focus on a closed ecosystem has allowed it to focus more on the consumer experience and allowed it to attract a legion of “fan boys” that snap up whatever device the company makes. Xiaomi’s largest critics believe that a closed ecosystem is hard to pull off. This is especially true in China where Tencent is well-entrenched in social networking and gaming and Alibaba has a strong position in e-commerce. However it seems that Xiaomi has found its “killer app” outside of social and commerce and is staking its claim.

To get better insight into that killer app, Flurry looked at the app categories where Xiaomi users spend the most time. While gaming still dominates, it was interesting to see that Xiaomi users spent significantly more time in Media and Entertainment apps than Samsung or Apple users. Compared to iPhone users, Xiaomi customers spend five times as much time in Media and Entertainment aps. While the definition of what goes into Media and Entertainment apps is broad, think of it as content that consumed in the living room and in movie theaters (or the small and big screens.)

xiaomi users spend the most time

Could this simply be a sign of a shift in content consumed on mobile devices, or a clever focus on behalf of Xiaomi? Earlier in the year, Flurry released the below data, showing that Media and Entertainment was the second fastest growing category in mobile, growing much faster than gaming and slightly behind social networking. 

social media and entertainment resized 600

So the growth of Media and Entertainment apps is a worldwide phenomenon, but it appears that Xiaomi has claimed its stake in that market segment very strategically and successfully. Taking a page from history, Blackberry used email as its entry point into the smartphone market, unseating Nokia. Then Apple came along and used Music and iTunes (and its access to people’s credit cards) as its entry point into market, unseating Blackberry.

With Media and Entertainment as its entry point and successful entry into the flat panel TV market place (besting Apple), it appears that Xiaomi has taken a page out of Netflix’s playbook to beat the competition at the content game. Granted, today it is “just” China, but Xiaomi is not stopping at its home market. Its latest hire indicates that the company’s ambitions are way beyond the Chinese borders. While its CEO is known to dress like Steve Jobs, it is Netflix’s Reed Hastings, whose long-term focus is on cutting the cable cord and “owning” a good portion of the Media and Entertainment industry, that Mr. Jun needs to be compared to.

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The South Korea Report: Device and App Trends in The First Saturated Device Market

  
  
  

In August of this year Flurry Analytics measured 33,527,534 active smartphones and tablets in South Korea. While that was only 2.8% of the entire worldwide connected device installed base Flurry measures, South Korea is an important market for connected devices for several reasons. First, it is the first connected device market in the world to approach saturation. Second, it is Samsung’s home market, and largely as a consequence of that, more of the devices in use there are manufactured by domestic firms than is the case for any other country. Finally, it is home to more phablet fans than anywhere else.

First Saturated Device Market

Worldwide the installed base of connected devices measured by Flurry grew by 81% between August of 2012 and August of 2013, whereas growth for South Korea during the same time period was only 17%. It was a different story just a couple of years ago. During late 2011 and early 2012, the South Korean connected device market grew more rapidly than the worldwide market, as shown by the divergence of the black line from the red in the chart below. This was the period during which Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note. It was the first successful ‘phablet’, enabling Samsung to capture two-thirds of the South Korean mobile phone market, and driving rapid growth in that market. As shown in the graph, that growth has slowed markedly in the past year or so, and has even been negative in some months. That implies that the South Korean connected device market either already is, or will soon be, the first in the world to reach saturation. As such, it provides a good early indicator of what other markets can expect once the rapid growth period the mobile market has experienced over the past few years ends.

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Home to Samsung, LG, Pantech, and Phablets

Even as growth in its domestic market has slowed, Samsung continues to dominate the South Korean connected device market. It had a 60% share of a random sample of 3,124 of the devices in our system in South Korea that run iOS or Android apps. Between them, two other South Korean device manufacturers, LG and Pantech, had another 25% of the market, meaning that the vast majority of the smartphones and tablets being used in South Korea (85% of the devices in our sample) are manufactured in South Korea. That dominance of local manufacturers is unique in the world now that Apple’s share of the US market, Blackberry’s share of the Canadian market, and Nokia’s share of the market in Finland have all weakened.

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Given that South Korea’s rapid period of connected device growth was ushered in by the phablet, it is perhaps not surprising that it continues to surpass the rest of the world in its preference for that form factor. As shown below, in a worldwide sample of 97,963 iOS and Android devices, only 7% were phablets, but for South Korea that percentage was 41%. The appeal of phablets in South Korea appears to suppress the tablet market there. Worldwide, 19% of the devices in our sample were tablets compared to only 5% in South Korea.

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Games Occupy Time And Generate Revenue

Games are the most popular app category in South Korea, as they are in much of the rest of the world. SK Planet's T Store, the largest app store in South Korea, provided data to Flurry showing that 68% of its revenue from apps plus other digital content comes from games. On average, their gaming customers generate ₩5,657 (~U.S. $5.27) per user per month in gaming revenue alone compared to an overall average of ₩3,135 (~U.S. $2.92) per user per month in revenue across all forms of digital content for all customers.

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Social networking accounts for a significant share of app activity in South Korea, as it does in many other countries. Tool apps are used heavily by South Korean Android users, and entertainment apps capture a lot of time spent in iOS apps.

Compared to app users elsewhere, South Koreans over-index on Entertainment apps on iOS and several Android app categories (Media / Video, Photography, Lifestyle, Shopping, and Tools).

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As in the U.S., the vast majority of apps used in South Korea – 96% of those available through the T Store – are free.

What Happens Once The Connected Device Market is Saturated?

The fact that the South Korean connected device market is saturated (or very close to being saturated) makes it an interesting test case for considering the future of the connected device market worldwide. What happens once more or less everyone who is likely to is carrying at least one smartphone or tablet?

One area to keep an eye on is new uses for connected devices, such as mobile payments. South Korea is a world leader in mobile payments – probably in part because of the prevalence of NFC-enabled devices. For example, SK Planet has a mobile payment system called T Cash, which is used for 54% of in app purchases, and also can be used to pay for off-device transactions such as train and taxi fares. Interestingly, another third of in app purchases are paid for using gift certificates, demonstrating the potential of mobile devices as a mechanism for giving and receiving gifts. It doesn’t seem like a big leap for that to go from in app purchases to physical goods that could be delivered or picked up with the mobile device used for authentication. Already merchants in South Korea are using tablets to manage payments, inventory, and even promotion.

Another area to watch is interoperability across connected devices. The fact that Samsung manufactures smartphones, tablets, and connected TVs (as well as other consumer electronics that are becoming part of the Internet of things) makes it well-positioned to better integrate those devices and the content that runs on them. With Samsung being so dominant in South Korea and that market being so well developed for connected devices, it is a logical test market for products and services that take advantage of that type of cross-device integration.

Download The South Korea Report with additional data

Android Speaks Spanish, But Brands Don’t Speak Android

  
  
  

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 12% of people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home, and nearly fifty million Americans are of Hispanic origin. The collective purchasing power of Hispanics is expected to reach 1.5 trillion dollars by 2015. Brands are clearly aware of the importance of this demographic group, and there are advertising agencies dedicated toward helping brands communicate with Hispanic consumers. Nonetheless results of some recent research suggest that brands are not doing enough to create positive app experiences for Spanish speaking consumers in spite of the fact that Hispanics in general are enthusiastic users of smartphones.

Last week’s Advertising Research Foundation forum on the intersection between mobile and culture inspired us to investigate what the overall U.S. appscape looks like from the perspective of Spanish-speaking device users. Flurry is able to do that because we can detect what language a user’s device is set to each time they start an app session, and we record data from over a billion app sessions each day in the U.S.

Defining Spanish Interest Apps

We started by defining Spanish Interest apps as those for which there is at least one U.S.-based user with their device’s language set to Spanish for every twenty set to English. We used this as an indication that a non-trivial proportion of the app’s users speak Spanish, indicating some level of interest in the app among Spanish speakers. As shown below, 15% of apps with fifty or more daily users in the U.S. were in this category.

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Android Speaks Spanish

The overall percentage of Spanish Interest apps is in line with what you might expect given the prevalence of Spanish speakers in the U.S., but what’s surprising is how those apps are distributed across mobile operating systems. As shown below, nearly half of Android apps are Spanish Interest apps compared to less than 5% of iOS apps. In other words, 47% of Android apps have one or more user with their device set to Spanish for every twenty who have it set to English. That is only true of 4% of iOS apps.

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It’s important to note that this may not be so much a reflection of app availability as it is a reflection of device ownership patterns since the apps a user can run are determined by their device’s operating system.

Spanish Speaking Android Users Love Games Even More Than Everyone Else Does

The apps that have the greatest number of U.S. users with devices set to Spanish as compared to English are mainly Spanish language apps (some originating from the U.S. and some from countries for which Spanish is the dominant language). Other than that, Spanish Interest apps span the full range of app categories but are disproportionately likely to be in the Game, Live Wallpaper, Personalization, and Photography categories in Google Play. As shown below, Spanish Interest apps are also over-represented in some iOS categories, but because the base rate on iOS is so low (4%) the absolute percentage of Spanish Interest apps is still relatively low even in categories in which they are over-represented.

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Fans Of Pets, Sports, And Bargains

By definition, the audience for Spanish Interest apps includes Spanish speakers, but we wanted to find out what else we could learn about the audience for those apps. We did that by identifying which Flurry Personas (psychographic segments) are over- and under-represented in Spanish Interest apps. We found that Pet Owners, Sports Fans, and Value Shoppers are among the over-represented Personas and Auto Enthusiasts, Home and Garden Pros, and Real Estate Followers are among the under-represented. A more complete list is provided below.

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Brands Don’t Speak Android

Many brands have taken a while to embrace mobile at all, and to the extent that they have they have tended to start with iOS. Some haven’t ventured any further. In some cases that is due to concerns about fragmentation or for brand safety in the more open Android ecosystem, but it is also due to the demographics of the user bases for iOS and Android. A considerable body of evidence suggests that, on average, iOS users are more affluent than Android users and they tend to spend more money in a variety of product categories.

Combine that with the tendency of Spanish Speakers to use Android devices, and it’s easy to understand why few brands have created Spanish language apps. The fact that some of the Personas most coveted by advertisers are under-represented in the apps in which Spanish speakers are most over-represented reinforces this point.

Given the size of the Spanish speaking population, the shift of consumer attention toward mobile, and the advertising budgets following them, this situation needs to change. Our results show that if marketers want to reach Spanish speakers on mobile they are going to need to do so using Android. That creates an opportunity – or really a necessity -- for Hispanic-focused advertising agencies to lead in creating high-quality brand promotion on Android. While Android users in the U.S. may be less affluent than iOS users, collectively they still have massive purchasing power, and world-wide, Android is even more dominant than it is in the U.S. Given the size of the Android audience world-wide, teaching brands to speak Android could pay big dividends well beyond those that can be generated from U.S. Spanish speakers. 

Spoiler Alert: Don Draper Is Dead, And Mobile, Big Data, And RTB Killed Him

  
  
  

Many of us at Flurry love Mad Men, but we believe that Don Draper’s advertising industry is ancient history. Don would probably mistake smartphones for cigarette cases and tablets for coasters. More importantly, sophisticated buyers and sellers in today’s advertising market are making decisions in real time based on masses of data rather than months in advance based on charm and corporate hospitality. Advertising buying is being disrupted by efficiency gains from real time bidding (RTB) and effectiveness improvements achieved by using big data to inform mobile advertising transactions.

Data-Driven RTB In The Mobile Space

Recently Flurry launched an RTB Marketplace that enables advertisers to bid for the attention of smartphone and tablet users one at a time. We are betting big on the trend toward programmatic buying for two reasons. First, it enables precision targeting that was unimaginable in the pre-digital age and is still uncommon. Buying ad exposures one at a time enables advertisers to reach precisely-defined audiences wherever they are and whenever they use their devices. That level of precision would always have been useful, but it is especially important now that consumer interests, preferences, and lifestyles have become so varied.

Second, RTB brings a new level of efficiency to ad buying. The whole nature of an auction means that an advertiser who is willing to pay the most to reach a certain type of person will earn the opportunity to do so. The price advertisers are willing to pay provides a clear signal of the relative value they place on a customer or potential customer.

In this post we share initial results from our Marketplace to illustrate the power of combining the price signals provided through RTB auctions with the individualized targeting capabilities made possible by big data.

Building A Mobile Audience One Person(a) At A Time

The chart below illustrates three important results related to the value advertisers place on different types of mobile users and the available supply of those people’s in-app attention. The items being plotted are Flurry Personas. These are groups of devices whose owners access particular types of apps more frequently than people using other devices do.

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The size of the bubble associated with each Persona represents supply, or the relative number of auctions for the right to serve an impression to a device in the Persona. Of the Personas shown here the greatest number of available impressions were for Casual and Social Gamers and the least were for Fashionistas and Food and Dining enthusiasts.

The x-axis, clearance rate, shows the percentage of auctions that had a winning bid, resulting in an advertiser displaying an ad on a device. As can be seen by looking at the right bound of the x-axis, less than half of the auctions had a winning bidder. This is a normal and expected result in RTB auctions. Reasons for auctions not clearing include price floors being set too high, bidding technologies used by advertisers’ representatives responding too slowly, some publishers being able to sell their ad inventory for higher prices elsewhere, and advertisers being uninterested in the inventory some publishers offer.

The y-axis shows the average effective cost per thousand impressions (eCPM). Even though these impressions are sold on an individual basis that is still the common pricing metric.

Fashionistas And Foodies Command A Premium, But Hipsters And Music Lovers Are Cheap

Examining supply, price, and clearance rate together reveals a lot about the state of play in the mobile advertising market. First, the fact that Fashionistas and Food and Dining Lovers are in the upper right corner implies that those Personas are of greatest interest to advertisers. It seems logical that those would be desirable psychographics, but the limited supply of ad inventory for those Personas also helps explain why prices and clearance rates are high. It means there are opportunities to generate mobile advertising revenue by publishing apps and content that attract Fashionistas and Food and Dining Lovers.

At the other extreme, Music Lovers and Hipsters have relatively low clearance rates and relatively low average eCPMs. While the supply of impressions for these groups within our Marketplace is not particularly large (as shown by the medium-sized bubbles), we hypothesize that people in these Personas are fairly easy to reach outside of our Marketplace because music fans spend a lot of time in music apps and many apps attract mobile-savvy Hipsters. It also makes sense that advertisers compete less aggressively for Music Lovers considering how inexpensive music is now compared to the pre-Napster era.  

The overall diagonal pattern formed by the personas shows that the market is working efficiently, as expected. How do we know that? If a Persona had a high clearance rate but a low average eCPM we would expect advertisers to bid up the price to secure inventory. The fact that there are no Personas in the lower right corner shows that is exactly what has happened.

A position in the upper left corner of the chart means that auctions to advertise to that Persona have a high average eCPM given their rate of clearance. Here, we would expect publishers to drop their floor prices to achieve higher clearance rates. The fact that there are no Personas in the extreme upper left corner suggests that is also happening. There are some Personas with positions approaching that upper left corner: News and Magazine Readers are the most extreme example. We see two possible explanations for why those publishers didn’t drop their floors in search of higher clearance rates. One is that some of those publishers are able to sell impressions that don’t sell through our Marketplace direct or to use them themselves (i.e., to promote their own properties). The other is a policy of keeping prices above a certain level to maintain a premium image even if it means sacrificing short-term revenue opportunities.

Power Lunches Are Losing Out To The Power Of Data

RTB moves at lightning speed. A publisher can shop a single impression in the nanosecond before the winning ad appears. Compare that to the speculative, mass-market approach of the Upfronts, and it’s easy to see that advertising buying is likely to be completely disrupted by RTB.

The Persona-based targeting described in this post demonstrates the power of data to inform each bid. Advertisers no longer need to make buying decisions based on stereotypes about which types of people are interested in what type of products or content. They can define their target audience precisely, and aggregate that exact audience efficiently impression by impression. Mobile also contributes to this type of precision targeting since smartphones are highly personal devices loaded with apps that reveal much more about the person looking at the screen than standard demographics ever did. The long held promise of digital advertising is finally being realized on mobile.

All of this leads us to believe that advertisers or publishers who want to do things in the old way may be better off kicking back, pouring themselves a drink, and watching an episode of Mad Men instead of entering the fray in the mobile advertising space where data-fueled RTB is sure to win.

The Post-PC Era: Is the U.S. losing its grip on the software industry?

  
  
  

Just five years ago, PCs reigned supreme and so did the US software industry. In 2008, U.S. companies produced an estimated 65% of all PC software units sold on a worldwide basis.

In only half a decade, smartphones, tablets, and perhaps most importantly, apps, have changed the nature of the software industry. In this post we look at where apps are being developed and used and discuss the implications of that for the Post-PC Era software industry.

More Apps Are Now Being Created Outside The U.S. Than Inside The U.S.

Let’s start by considering where apps are being produced. The chart below shows the percentage of the apps that were recording data through Flurry Analytics as of the start of June in a given year broken down by whether they were created in the US or in another country. As shown in that chart, even in 2011, only a minority of apps were created in the US. By June of this year only 36% of the apps we measure were made in the U.S.A.

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U.S. Made Apps Still Dominate App Engagement, But Their Share Is Slipping

Of course, some apps enjoy much greater use than others, so we next considered how the picture changes if apps are weighted by total time, which takes into account both user numbers and engagement. Once time is taken into account, things look considerably better for the U.S., suggesting that, on average, user numbers or engagement are greater for apps made in the U.S. than for apps created elsewhere. That makes sense given the size of the U.S. population, the fact that it was an app pioneer country, and the number of English speakers in other countries who might be able to use U.S.-made apps without any localization. Nonetheless, even the weighted percentage of apps made in the U.S.A. has dropped in the past year.

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Use of Local Apps Is Strong In China

This should not lull U.S. app developers into a false sense of security however. That becomes evident from examining where the apps used by people in particular countries are made. That’s what the chart below does, starting with the United States. Nearly sixty percent (59%) of the time U.S. users spend in apps is spent in apps developed domestically, meaning that more than 40% of the app time of U.S. consumers is already spent in apps developed in other countries.

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And while U.S. made apps are used elsewhere, unsurprisingly, people in many other countries spend a significant amount of their app time in apps developed in their home countries. For example, 13% of the time spent in apps in the UK is spent in apps made in the UK and 8% of the time spent in apps in Brazil is spent in apps made in Brazil. But as is so often the case, it’s China where things get really interesting. Nearly two-thirds of the time spent in apps in China is spent in apps made in China. U.S. made apps only account for 16% of total time spent in apps in China. The size and growth rate of the Chinese app market imply that the worldwide share of time spent in apps that are produced in the U.S. can be expected to contract further.

Translating apps and adapting apps to make them culturally appropriate is necessary in a country such as China to get most people to download and use most apps made elsewhere. Until recently, rapid growth in countries that didn’t require that type of effort meant that many developers based in the United States probably didn’t want to bother. With growth in the smartphone, tablet, and app markets in countries such as the U.S. slowing and a lot of remaining room for growth in countries such as China, some developers may now be reconsidering that position. It will be interesting to see if many can successfully adapt their apps for world markets.

While many U.S. app developers are just starting to think about globalizing their apps, it has been a near necessity for developers in some other countries from the beginning. Consider the situation facing a developer in a small country where the local language is not one of the world’s dominant languages. Unless they create an app with global appeal (e.g., a flashlight app), or that can be adapted to local markets relatively easily (e.g., translation of a weather app), they are likely to end up with very few users. That is a problem since the time required to develop an app for a small number of users is no different from that required to develop an app used by a large number of people.

App Developers In Other Countries Have A Head Start Globalizing

Creating global or localizable apps turns that problem into an opportunity. The chart below suggests that developers in countries such as Finland, Denmark, Bulgaria, and Slovenia are taking advantage of that opportunity. The numbers in the chart reflect the impact of app developers in a given country by taking the total percentage of time users worldwide spend in apps developed in that country and dividing it by the total percentage of apps developed in that country. Note that this is equivalent to taking the 2013 percentages in the second set of charts in this post and dividing them by the 2013 percentages in the first set of charts. For example, 70%/36% = an impact of 1.9 for the US. A metric of one or greater indicates that, on average, apps developed in a given country command a disproportionate share of time. The bigger the number, the greater the impact of apps developed in that country.

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Given the dominance of English, the tendency of U.S. cultural products to spread internationally, and the fact that much of the app economy developed in the U.S., it’s not surprising that the metric for the U.S. is greater than one. China’s large population and the difficulties developers outside of China face developing for that market also make its high impact somewhat expected. What’s much more interesting is that the other five countries that have an impact metric of one or greater are all small, and four of the five speak relatively rare languages.

Globalization Of The App Industry Can Be Expected To Continue

This, and the low cost of app development imply that the app part of the software industry has the potential to become truly global.  For example, as of June of this year, developers in twenty-three countries contributed at least 1000 apps to the more than 350,000 apps Flurry measures worldwide.

There are already examples of worldwide app hits that were developed outside the United States. For example, Angry Birds was developed by Finland based Rovio and has become a worldwide success with hundreds of millions of downloads. The same applies to Cut the Rope, which was developed by Russia-based Zepto Labs and Fruit Ninja which was developed by Australia-based Half Brick Studios.

Three key factors suggest that the markets for apps and app development will become increasingly global.

First, the App Store and Google Play take a lot of friction taken out of software distribution in the app world.

Second, the market is already very large and growing quickly in many parts of the world. In July of 2013, Flurry tracked 1.15 Billion monthly active devices. As our results have shown, there is still some ‘home field advantage’ for local developers, but in theory developers anywhere can create apps for users anywhere.

Third, the cost of development is still relatively inexpensive, especially if you factor in the average salary of software engineers in countries like the Philippines, The Ukraine, and Brazil. The cost of promotion is rising, but total costs are still a fraction of the cost of development, packaging, distribution, and marketing packaged PC software.

In short, geography is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the Post-PC Era.

Samsung, The True Ruler of the Android Kingdom

  
  
  

Android has been a hot topic lately, with some arguing that it may become a unilateral smartphone superpower and others arguing that it has already peaked in the US market. A lot of this conversation seems to assume that Android’s (and by extension, Google’s) gain is Apple’s loss and vice-versa. We believe that the situation is more complex than that.

Two facts about Android are now well established: 1) Android smartphones now dominate many markets in terms of device shipments, but 2) The market for Android devices is famously fragmented. What’s less well-established is how and when all of those Android devices are being used and the implications of that for participants in the Android ecosystem and beyond. Those are the topics that we tackle in this post with a particular focus on Samsung devices and how their owners compare to users of other Android devices.

Smartphones Dominate On Android

This posts builds on a previous one we did exploring how people use iOS smartphones and tablets. As we will show, there are many similarities in usage patterns across the two operating systems, but one big difference is the overall breakdown between smartphones and tablets. In this May sample of 45,340 Android devices (of the 576 million Flurry measures), 88% were phones and 12% were tablets. The share of devices represented by smartphones is significantly greater than in our iOS sample, in which 72% of devices were phones. The emphasis on phones over tablets was even greater among Samsung devices in our sample: 91% were smartphones and 9% were tablets.

FLR130801 Android Sm1ACC4E resized 600

As in our previous post, we started our analysis by considering how the smartphone versus tablet distribution varies by psychographic segment. These are Personas, developed by Flurry, in which device users are assigned to segments based on their app usage. An individual person may be in more than one Persona because they over-index on a variety of types of apps. Those who own more than one device may not be assigned to the same Personas on all of their devices because their app usage patterns may not be the same across devices.

The Personas shown above the “Everyone” bar in the graph below skew more toward phones than the general population of Android device owners, while the Personas shown below the “Everyone” bar skew more toward tablets. (Android device ownership patterns for Personas not shown are not statistically different from those shown for “Everyone.”) In general, these follow a similar pattern to the one we saw for iOS. On-the-move type Personas, including Avid Runners, skew toward phones and more home-bound personas, such as Pet Owners, skew more toward tablets.

FLR130801 AndroidTabletsHomeUse v1 resized 600

Within that broader pattern, there were differences based on the particular Android smartphone or tablet that a person owns. Samsung is the dominant manufacturer of Android devices. Its phones represented 59% of the phones in our overall sample of Android phones, and its tablets represented 42% of the tablets in our sample. Both its products and its promotion suggest that Samsung attempts to differentiate itself from other devices that share the Android operating system, and those differences were reflected in persona memberships. 

Samsung Is Building A Unique and Attractive Audience

Owners of Samsung devices were disproportionately likely to be in many personas, including some of those most sought-after by advertisers (e.g., Business Travelers and Moms). Since Persona memberships are based on over-indexing for time spent in particular types of apps, this suggests that Samsung device owners are generally more enthusiastic app users than owners of other brands of Android smartphones and tablets.

FLR130801 SamsungOwnersEnthusiastic v3 resized 600

Overall, owners of Android tablets spent 64% more time using apps than owners of Android smartphones. This ratio varied by category, as shown in the chart below. For example, owners of Android smartphones spent more than five times as much time, on average, in Business apps as owners of Android tablets. Sports and Photography were other categories that heavily favored phones. As with iOS, Education and Games skewed more toward tablets. (Average time spent using app categories not shown does not differ in a statistically significant way between Android smartphones and tablets.)

FLR130801 RatioTimeSpentAndroid v1 resized 600

Once again there was variation by manufacturer. Overall, owners of Samsung phones spent 14% more time using apps than owners of other Android phones and owners of Samsung tablets spent 10% more time using apps than owners of other Android tablets. The particular categories of apps where time spent was greater for Samsung phones were News Magazines, Tools, Health and Fitness, Photography, and Education. Owners of Samsung tablets spent more time than owners of other Android tablets in Communication (e.g., voice over IP and texting) apps.

Android app use peaks between 8 and 11 pm. Comparing the two types of Android devices, a greater share of tablet use takes place from 3pm until 11 pm and a greater share of phone use takes place from 11 am to 3 pm and overnight. While the overall amount of time spent on Samsung devices is greater than for other Android smartphones and tablets, the overall time distribution throughout the day is similar.

FLR130801 AndroidTimeAllocation v1 resized 600

Can Samsung Compete At Both Ends Of The Market?

As this and our previous post have shown, while smartphones capture more time in specific app categories, such as Navigation and Photography, those tend to be categories of apps used in short bursts. Tablets are favored for longer-duration app categories, such as Games and Education, and so, on average, tablet users spend more total time using apps than smartphone users. That makes tablets particularly interesting to content creators and to advertisers.

Samsung is the dominant manufacturer of Android devices. As shown in this post, it is attracting a unique audience relative to other Android devices. Owners of Samsung devices spend more time in apps than owners of other Android devices, and they are also disproportionately likely to be members of psychographic segments (Personas) that are attractive to advertisers. In those respects, they are more similar to owners of iOS devices than owners of other Android devices are.

But compared to iOS, a smaller share of Android devices are tablets, and that percentage is even smaller for Samsung devices than for Android as a whole. So the question is: will Samsung make as big of an impact in the tablet market as it has in the smartphone market?

In some ways, this comes down to a question of how it will balance its resources between two different types of markets: relatively more affluent countries that were early adopters of connected devices so new growth is now coming mainly from tablet adoption versus less affluent countries where smartphone penetration is still relatively low, but growing quickly.

A focus on tablets could enable Samsung to better develop more of a true ecosystem of its own (especially considering that they can include connected TVs as part of that) and the higher profits that go with that. Riding the wave of global smartphone growth is more of a high volume / low margin strategy. Of course, they could try to compete at both ends of the market, but each individually may require a lot of resources because of Apple’s (and to a lesser extent, Amazon’s) strength in the tablet market and the number of hungry competitors anxious to grow along with the Android smartphone market. If they can do both, they will rule the Android Kingdom, and Samsung, rather than Google, will pose the greater threat to Apple.

The Who, What, and When of iPhone and iPad Usage

  
  
  

All advertisers seek to deliver the right message to the right person at the right moment. If content is king, then context is queen – particularly when it comes to mobile devices that are typically close at hand if not in our hands.

Smartphones and tablets are often lumped together as “smart”, “mobile”, or “connected” devices, but their use varies by person and by context. In this post, we explore context as it relates to iOS devices. We discuss who uses each device, which devices are used to enact what aspects of users’ lives and personalities, and when usage tends to take place.

Because Android and iOS devices have different audiences, we focus only on iPhone and iPad in this post. Flurry currently measures activity on 397 million active iOS devices, and this analysis is based on usage during May of a random sample of 44,295 of those (iPhone and iPad only; iPod Touch was not included). A future post will discuss usage patterns on Android tablets and smartphones.

iPhone Goes Out; iPad Stays In

Flurry has developed a set of Personas in which device users are assigned to psychographic segments based on their app usage. An individual person may be in more than one Persona because they over-index on a variety of types of apps. Those who own more than one device may not be assigned to the same Personas on all of their devices because their app usage patterns may not be the same across devices.

We started this analysis by considering what share of iOS devices used by members of each persona were iPhone and iPad. As shown in the “everyone” benchmark in the chart below, overall iPhone had a 72% share and iPad had 28%. The Personas shown above the “Everyone” bar skew more toward iPhone than the general population of iOS device owners, while the Personas shown below the “Everyone” bar skew more toward iPad.

FLR130801 Share of iOS Devices resized 600

Beginning at the top, the numbers illustrate that Personas “on the move” skew most heavily toward iPhone: Value Shoppers use iPhone to scan barcodes and find bargains, and Singles and Hip Urban Lifestylers use them to socialize. iPhone represents more than 90% of iOS devices (excluding iPod) owned by members of those Personas.

Somewhat surprisingly, that is also true of New Moms. In that case they may still be on the move, but in pursuit of the goods, services, and support they need for their new babies. New Moms may also have less free time to participate in leisure activities like reading and gaming which, as we will show soon, are more heavily associated with iPad.

It appears that moms’ device usage changes as their children get older. Moms (as opposed to New Moms) are one of the Personas that skew most toward iPad. Evidence from other sources and anecdotal observation suggests this is likely to be at least partially attributable to Moms using their tablets to entertain and educate older children. The fact that the Parenting and Education Persona skews toward iPad also supports this.

Moving to the bottom of the chart, the Personas that heavily favor iPad are associated with home-oriented activities. Those include Pet Owners and Home Design Enthusiasts, but also Small Business Owners, who may work from home. Gamers also skew more heavily toward iPad.

iPad Is For Learning and Playing -- Not Navigating

The time iPhone and iPad owners spend in different categories of apps also support the overall pattern of iPhone going out and iPad staying in. Overall, iPad owners in our sample spent 42% more time in apps on their devices than iPhone owners during May, but that time varied significantly by category. As shown in the chart below, compared to iPad owners, iPhone owners spent more than 13 times us much time using Navigation apps. They spent more than five times as much time using Health and Fitness apps to do things such as tracking walks, runs, and bike rides.

FLR130801 Ratio AverageTimeSpent resized 600

The app categories for which average time spent on iPad exceeds that for iPhone are Education, Newsstand, Games, and Reference. Again, more home-oriented activities. 

iPad Is For Evening; iPhone Is For Late Night

The chart below shows how time spent using iPhone and iPad apps is distributed throughout the day. As might be expected based on the previous discussion and conventional wisdom about iPad, its heaviest period of use comes between 6 pm and 11 pm – times when most people have downtime for activities such as games and reading. iPhone app usage also peaks during that time, but the absolute amount of time on iPad and the percentage of app use that occurs during those hours is greater. Both of those differences are statistically significant. 

FLR130801 iPhoneiPadTimeAllocation resized 600

The situation reverses as the night wears on, and between 2 am and 4 am usage is greater in iPhone apps than in iPad apps. This may be insomniacs reaching for phones at their bedside or those Singles and Hip Urban Lifestylers finding their way home from a late night.

What is perhaps most surprising about the distribution of time on each device throughout the day is how consistent the patterns are – especially between about 6 am and 4 pm. Given what we’ve described so far about iPhone being more of an out-and-about device and iPad being more of a stay-at-at home device, we believe that this is a function of varied lifestyles, with owners of different devices being at home and out-and-about at different times.

Multiple Devices, Multiple Personalities?

Our discussion up until now has focused on differences between iPad and iPhone owners, but obviously an increasing number of people own both devices. While our data does not enable us to link the same user across his or her different devices, we believe that individuals may express different parts of their personalities and lifestyles through their use of different devices. For example, by night a person in the Single and Hip Urban Lifestyle Personas may use her iPhone to organize her social life. By day that same person may use her iPad to run her interior design business, putting her in our Small Business and Home Design Enthusiast Personas.

That combination of person, usage situation and device is important for app developers and advertisers. For example, in this situation, our single small business owner may be more receptive to work-oriented apps and ads on her iPad and play-oriented apps and ads on her iPhone. Savvy app developers and advertisers will increasingly factor contextual differences such as those into their development and targeting plans. 

China Report: Device and App Trends in the #1 Mobile Market

  
  
  

Smartphones and tablets have gone from being the latest gadgets for relatively affluent people in relatively affluent countries to ubiquitous devices in mainstream use in many countries around the world. In fact, as we reported in February of this year China surpassed the US to become the country with the largest installed base of connected devices as measured by Flurry Analytics. As we also reported, a second wave of countries around the world is now experiencing the type of growth mobile pioneer countries experienced previously. For example, the mobile markets in the BRIC countries are now all growing faster than the mobile markets in the U.S., U.K., and South Korea. 

Knowing that the landscape is constantly shifting, we are beginning a series of blog posts reporting on the use of smartphones, tablets, and apps in particular countries and geographic regions around the world. Given China’s world-leading installed base and considering the China Joy conference (China’s largest digital conference) is this week we thought we would begin there.

In June of this year Flurry Analytics measured 261,333,271 active smartphones and tablets in China. That represented a whopping 24% of the entire worldwide connected device installed base measured by Flurry. The chart below documents the growth in the installed base. The left axis and blue line show China’s growth over the years. The right axis and red line show growth in the world as a whole (including China) a basis of comparison. As can be seen from the gap between the two lines growing through 2010 and much of 2011, growth in smartphones and tablets in China lagged the world as a whole through that period. But starting toward the end of 2011, the installed base in China began a period of exponential growth. During this period it surpassed the growth rate for the world as a whole, as shown by the blue line catching the red line in the graph. We expect China to maintain its leadership (in terms of active installed base) for the foreseeable future because device penetration rate is still relatively low and much opportunity remains, as we reported in a previous post.

FLR130702 large installed base V3 300dpi resized 600

Xiaomi Is A Local Manufacturer To Watch

Examining a random sample of 18,310 of the devices in our system in China that run iOS or Android apps revealed that Apple and Samsung are the top two device manufacturers, as they are most everywhere. China’s own Xiaomi was a strong third, with a 6% share of the market, ahead of HTC, Lenovo and a multitude of others. As we noted in a previous post, Xiaomi has been successful in accumulating a large number of active users for each device model it releases. Worldwide, only Apple, Amazon, and Samsung have more active users for each device model released.

FLR130702 iOS and Android installations  300dpi resized 600 v2 resized 600

It will be interesting to see if Xiaomi can continue to gain share in China – possibly by mopping up share from smaller manufacturers of Android devices – and also if they can begin making gains in other markets outside of China to become more of a global player. With rumors of a Xiaomi tablet circulating, we will also be watching to see if their entry into the tablet market will increase the use of Android tablets in China. Currently 21% of the iOS devices in our randomly drawn sample were tablets compared to only 4% of the Android devices.

Chinese Users Over Index in Reading, Utility, Productivity

In looking at how Chinese people use their connected devices we see similarities and differences compared to the rest of the world. As a general rule worldwide, games dominate time spent in apps measured by Flurry Analytics, and China is no exception. On average, Chinese owners of iOS devices spent 47% of their app in games. The percentage of app time devoted to games was even greater for Android at 56%.

FLR130702 fun and games V3 300dpi resized 600

Smartphones and tablets are not just about fun and games in China. Compared to iOS device owners elsewhere, the average time Chinese owners spend using Books, Newsstand, Utility, and Productivity apps is greater than the rest of the world (1.8x, 1.7x, 2.3x, and 2.1x respectively). On average Chinese owners of Android devices spend more than seven times as much time in Finance apps (7.4x) than Android owners elsewhere spend in Finance apps, but they also spend more time in Entertainment apps (1.7x).

FLR130702 Rest of World resized 600

Will China’s Exponential Growth Change The Device And App Markets?

It will be interesting to see how China now having leadership in terms of its installed base will impact the device and app markets elsewhere. Given Xiaomi’s success at building a large number of users for each model it releases, it might try to add further scale by expanding internationally – particularly to the other rapidly-growing BRIC markets where brand preferences are not already well-entrenched.

Within China itself, Chinese competitors may have an even greater advantage in the app market since cultural influences and differences are likely to be even more important in the app market than in the device market. There are already strong Chinese app companies such as Baidu and Tencent and clusters of app developers emerging in places like Chengdu. At first they are likely to concentrate on apps for the large local market, but that may eventually lead to growing app exports. For example, the fact that Chinese consumers over-index on some more work and educational-oriented apps may encourage Chinese developers to focus on those areas and innovate, and that could lead to creation of apps that end up being adopted elsewhere in the world. We’re looking forward to discovering what app is to China what Angry Birds was to Finland

The History of App Pricing, And Why Most Apps Are Free

  
  
  

Many consumer surveys point to an obvious conclusion: most people hate seeing ads on smartphones and tablets. But the truth is, contrary to the desire for an ad-free experience, when faced with the choice between free apps with ads, or paying even $.99 for apps without ads, consumers overwhelmingly choose the free apps and tolerate the ads.

In this post we explore that revealed preference for free content over content free of ads by examining four years worth of pricing information for the nearly 350,000 apps that use Flurry Analytics.

Our Apps Tell A Story

Each time we download an app, we reveal a little bit about ourselves. A glance at the apps on your phone can indicate whether you are a fan of sports, gaming, or public radio, and whether you love to hike or cook or travel. But our choices of apps also reveal our individual tolerance for advertising, and how we feel about the trade-off between paying for content directly, or paying indirectly by (implicitly) agreeing to view ads.

In many cases, apps are available in two forms: free (with ads) and paid (no ads). If you truly can’t stand to see ads in apps, you can usually pay $.99 or $1.99 to eliminate the ads and possibly get some additional functionality too. Even when a specific app does not come in paid and free versions, there are often other apps to choose from, free and paid, that perform very similar tasks like calling a taxi or looking up recipes.

So what are consumers choosing? Let’s start by considering iOS apps since they have been available for longer than Android apps. Note that all of our measurements in this post are weighted by user numbers so the apps with more users contribute more to the total trend.

People Want Content To Be Free

The chart below shows how the proportion of free versus paid apps has changed over the years in the App Store. Between 2010 and 2012 the percentage of apps using Flurry Analytics that were free varied between 80% and 84%, but by 2013, 90% of apps in use were free.

 Chart 1 resized 600

Some might argue that this supports the idea that “content wants to be free”. We don’t see it quite that way. Instead, we simply see this as the outcome of consumer choice: people want free content more than they want to avoid ads or to have the absolute highest quality content possible. This is a collective choice that could have played out differently and could still in particular contexts (e.g., enterprise apps or highly specialized apps such as those tracking medical or financial information).

Android Users Are Even Less Willing to Pay For Apps

Up until now, we have focused on iOS apps because they have been around longer, but what about Android? Conventional wisdom (backed by a variety of non-Flurry surveys) is that Android users tend to be less affluent and less willing to pay for things than iOS users. Does the app pricing data support that theory? Resoundingly.

As of April 2013, the average price paid for Android apps (including those where the price was free) was significantly less than for iPhone and iPad apps as shown below. This suggests that Android owners want app content to be free even more than iOS device users, implying that Android users are more tolerant of in-app advertising to subsidize the cost of developing apps. 

chart 2 resized 600

These results also support another belief derived from surveys and some transaction data: iPad users tend to be bigger spenders than owners of other devices, including iPhone. On average, the price of iPad apps in use in April of this year was more than 2.5 times that of iPhone apps and more than 8 times that of Android apps. This is likely to be at least partly attributable to the fact that on average iPad owners have higher incomes than owners of other devices. 

Developers’ Pricing Decisions Were Data-Driven

On the surface, the rise of free apps could be seen as herding behavior: maybe app developers saw how much free competition there was and decided to make their apps free too. It’s certainly possible that may have happened in some instances, but by digging deeper into app pricing patterns over time, we were able to see that many developers took a much more thoughtful approach to pricing.

We looked at historical iOS app data (again because iOS apps have a longer history) to identify apps that have been the subjects of pricing experiments. That typically took the form of A/B testing, where an app was one price for a period of time then the price was raised or lowered for a period of time, then raised or lowered again. This lets developers assess users’ willingness to pay (i.e., price elasticity of demand) based on the number of downloads at different price points.

The chart below shows the percentage of tested and untested apps that were free (again, weighted by user numbers). The vast majority of untested apps in green were free all along, so it’s most interesting to look at the trend among apps that were subject to pricing experiments, in blue. As shown, there was an upward trend in the proportion of price-tested apps that went from paid to free. This implies that many of the developers who ran pricing experiments concluded that charging even $.99 significantly reduced demand for their apps. 

PricingExperiments FA2

The People Have Spoken; It’s Time To Change The Conversation.

While consumers may not like in-app advertising, their behavior makes it clear that they are willing to accept it in exchange for free content, just as we have in radio, TV and online for decades. In light of that, it seems that the conversation about whether apps should have ads is largely over. Developers of some specialized apps may be able to monetize through paid downloads, and game apps sometimes generate significant revenue through in-app purchases, but since consumers are unwilling to pay for most apps, and most app developers need to make money somehow, it seems clear that ads in apps are a sure thing for the foreseeable future. Given that, we believe it’s time to shift the conversation away from whether there should be ads in apps at all, and instead determine how to make ads in apps as interesting and relevant as possible for consumers, and as efficient and effective as possible for advertisers and developers.

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Flurry is the leading mobile measurement and advertising platform that is optimizing mobile experiences for people everywhere. Flurry's industry-leading Analytics software sees activity in over 400,000 apps on more than 1.3 billion mobile devices worldwide, giving Flurry the deepest understanding of mobile consumer behavior. Flurry turns this insight into accelerated revenue and growth opportunities for app developers, and more effective mobile advertising solutions for brands and marketers. The company is venture backed and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, London, Chicago and Mumbai. 

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