The battle for mobile social supremacy is largely a two-horse race these days as Facebook and Google combine to claim one of every four minutes U.S. users spend on mobile devices, according to a report released this week by Forrester Research. Forrester tracked the app use of 1,721 adult smartphone users in the U.S. during the three-month period ending in December 2014.
Facebook's collection of mobile apps, including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, account for 13 percent of the total people spend using smartphones, according to Forrester. The social media juggernaut also edged out the entire enterprise mobile apps market, which accounted for only 8 percent of time spent on smartphones.
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Google's deeper and more diverse pool of apps, such as Gmail, Chrome and YouTube, took a total of 12 percent of the time the survey respondents spent on their smartphones. Each of the remaining major mobile players — Apple, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft and eBay — captured between 1 percent and 3 percent of U.S. smartphone users' time.
Forrester warns, however, that its mobile-app tracking system doesn't accurately count the time users spend with preinstalled, native apps, so Google's share is "substantially undercounted" due to the number of apps that come packaged with the Android OS. So it's likely that respondents actually spent more time with Google apps than Facebook apps, despite the numbers in Forrester's report.
Facebook, Google dwarf popular niche social apps
Smaller social apps, such as like Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn, command vast audiences in key categories, but according to Forrester they have fail to "dominate or stretch beyond their niche[s];" none of these surpassed a single percentage point of users' time spent.
The total time spent on each service, and the associated revenue, are important, but the leading social providers measure their power by the recurrence of what Forrester calls daily or monthly "mobile moments," or every minute a user spends inside an app on their smartphone, along with the data they collect during those minutes. "Apps are worth millions. Platforms are worth billions," the report reads. "You acquire power in mobile once you own an audience (i.e., mobile moments) or consumer data and can monetize those assets while dictating the rules of engagement."