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Where It’s App

Mobile phone usage around the world

I didn’t sleep much, last night. Why? Because of my phone.

One quick scroll down my Facebook feed turned into a trip through Twitter. Then Facebook. Then — why not? — LinkedIn. From there I started re-reading an excellent review of one of my favorite albums, and found myself clicking on an ad next to it for cheap flights to Barcelona (away from the Berlin cold, I hope). Trip daydreaming (er, nightdreaming?) commenced, and suddenly, it was 4 a.m.

All of this is part of my nightly routine — that, and waking up feeling like a (non-human) character from The Walking Dead.

Turns out, I’m not alone. Almost three-quarters of Americans own smartphones, and 35% say their phone is the first thing on their mind when they wake up. That, of course, affects how we sleep. With around 80% of internet users owning smartphones, that adds up to a LOT of people. Are you reading this on your smartphone right now?

Of course, not everyone around the world reaches out for a phone on waking up, and in fact mobile usage behaviors vary widely from country to country. When it comes to mobile behavior, each country has its own unique tendencies and trends that set it apart from all the others. In Brazil, almost all smartphone users do shopping research on their mobiles, while in Poland desktop is still the preferred method; in Germany, more than half of installed apps are only used once, while in the U.K that number is less than 30%.

When it comes to evaluating the ways that mobile has ingrained itself in our lives, the specific tendencies of each part of the world become even more obvious — as we’ve seen through our Where It’s App infographic series, which explores the state of mobile and app usage in different corners of the world. Across the board, mobile usage and especially shopping is, indeed, growing. Let’s take a look at some of the variations in mobile behaviors in the different markets and regions.

You can find the links to the different infographics below, or read on to learn more about the differences between them.

Mobile is Growing (and Influencing) Around the World

Mobile penetration varies per market, but last year its value was never below 50% in any of the markets we examined. For example, in Brazil in 2015, mobile penetration hit a staggering 90%, while in Germany and Poland it’s only 52%. That said, in Germany around 84% of mobile users surf daily on their smartphones, exactly the same is in France – though in France they only spend around 1.5 hours surfing, while in Germany it’s close to 2.5 hours per day.

Most critically, in each market, mobile penetration has been steadily increasing, along with its power to actually inform and influence transactions. In Brazil, 93% of smartphone owners use one to research a product before buying it, and in France that value is around 73%. In the end, mobile influences how we shop — and even pushes us to shop more.

M-Revenues are Huge, Yet Still Room for Growth

In the U.K., retail m-commerce sales made an estimated 25 billion pounds (around 28 billion euros) in 2016, while in the U.S the value is 123 billion dollars (around 16 billion euros) for retail and an estimated 65 billion for travel (around 61 billion euros).

In fact, mobile represents 31% of all U.S digital travel sales in 2016, and is expected to jump to 46% this year. In the U.K, 28% of all e-commerce happened on a mobile device, while in Brazil that value was only around 12% for 2015. This shows the untapped the potential of the mobile market in Brazil, since 79% of its internet traffic happens on mobile devices (in the U.S it’s only 54%), and 93% of all Brazilian consumers use smartphones to gather information on a product before actually buying it.

In some markets, the growth rates are in the double digits. Poland is a prime example: mobile penetration went from 33% to 58% in 2015, with 24% of all customers now using mobile for shopping. It’s a similar situation in Germany, where money spent on m-commerce went from 7.4 million euros in 2014 to 12.3 in 2016, with an average of 36 apps installed per person — higher than in Brazil, where it’s just 20.

App Retention Still Low

Let’s look at that last line for a second: 36 apps installed per person in a mature mobile market. That sounds excellent, but the follow-up question is: How many of those apps are actually used?

Unfortunately, not that many.

In both the U.S and the U.K, a quarter of installed apps are used only once, while another quarter are never used at all, and in Germany the number installed apps that are used only once reached 59% in 2015. Still, these markets actually have some of the highest results; in Brazil, a country with one of the highest mobile penetration values in the world, 80% of downloaded apps are used only once.

What does this mean for app marketers? Firstly, it means that m-commerce is still an almost untapped source of business. According to Sociomantic campaign data, in-app ads perform better than their desktop or mobile web counterparts, achieving as high as a 70% conversion rate, and gaining 50% more sales than mobile web mobile ads. That may be one reason why U.S. advertisers spent 29.6 billion dollars (28 billion euros) on in-app ads in 2016, versus just 10.9 billion (10.5 billion euros) on mobile web ads.

Mobile Took Over, But More Work to Be Done For App Marketers

As we can see, mobile has gone global. It’s taken over our routines, no matter where we live. It’s how ever more people browse, shop and interact with each other online.

The revenues and eyeballs that apps can bring to advertisers is huge, and there is still enormous potential waiting to be explored. Apps are getting installed, yes, but many are not being used. With app retention at the top of marketer’s “things to fix” lists in 2017, the room for growth is gigantic — particularly since in-app ads get better results than mobile web ones.

With more app users come more impressions, more conversions and ultimately more business. However, for that to happen, marketers must focus on bringing users back to their apps over and over again.

Follow us on Slideshare for even more infographics.