April 29, 2012
Social Networking Apps Challenging Games For Smartphone Dominance
For the first time in more than three years, mobile device users are spending as much time using social networking apps as they are playing games on their mobile devices, a new report from Flurry Analytics has discovered.
Flurry's research determined that smartphone owners were spending just as much time -- 24 minutes -- playing games like Angry Birds or Infinity Blade and using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media apps during the first quarter of 2012, Tom Curtis of Gamasutra reported on Friday. Conversely, during the same time period the previous year, game app usage beat social networking app usage by an average of 10 minutes per day, he added.
Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch called it "another sign that something fundamental is changing on the iOS and Android platforms“¦ You can actually visually see the changes on the charts compared to a year ago. Today apps like Viddy, Socialcam and Instagram are in the Top 5 free in the U.S. on iOS. These are all apps for sharing content like videos and friends. A year ago, these would have probably been mostly games."
It doesn't stop there, however. According to Curtis, Flurry also discovered that social networking apps have experienced a far quicker increase in advertising revenue than their video game counterparts. The Gamasutra reporter said that between February and April of this year, game apps earned between 35% and 36% of total ad revenue on the analytics firm's AppCircle mobile app traffic acquisition network. During that same period, Curtis said, social media app revenue share increased from 24% to 37%.
"For the first time in the history of applications“¦ another app category is rivaling Games," Flurry VP of Marketing Peter Farago wrote on Friday. "We take the rise in Social Networking apps as a signal of maturation for the platform. As game demand may be hitting its saturation point, consumers are also discovering other apps, namely Social Networking."
"The year-over-year growth in Social Networking has been staggering," he continued, adding that the growth of these types of apps "also signals the end of the era of gaming dominance within mobile apps“¦ As long as the total iOS and Android installed base grows, all categories will continue to grow naturally. However, as we reach saturation for mobile gaming on a per user basis“¦ the Games category could start behaving more like a 'zero sum game' from here on out, meaning that game companies would have to fight over a finite group of consumers in order to grow their businesses."