Consumers were hungry for mobile apps last year. According to Flurry data released earlier this month, overall app usage—which involves a user launching and actually using an app—grew by 76% year over year in 2014.
Retail was the star of the show last year. Lifestyle and shopping mobile app usage soared 174% on iOS (where the “lifestyle” category includes more than shopping) and Android. On Android alone, sessions in shopping apps more than tripled, with a 220% gain. Flurry found that mobile app shopping (tracked on Android devices in the US only) was highest around 9am and noon, mostly done outside of the household. Activity during the afternoon was slower, but usage spiked again to its highest level at 8pm, with most of this taking place at home. Despite the increase in time spent, though, there’s a bigger likelihood that those shoppers were browsing—not buying. According to October 2014 research by Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), among the 40% of US internet users who had a shopping app on their mobile phone or tablet, fewer than 40% used such apps to make purchases. But this doesn’t mean the remaining 61% weren’t buying—chances are, if they found something they liked, they headed to the store to finalize the purchase.
The global mobile app audience is expected to pass 2 billion this year, according to September 2014 estimates from 451 Research. The research firm predicted that the number of active mobile app users worldwide would rise from 1.81 billion to 2.17 billion between 2014 and 2015. By 2018, it expected this total to pass 3 billion.