Australian Smartphone and Tablet Data

Australian Smartphone Usage Still Early Days

According to preliminary data shared by Nielsen, Australians are spending a lot less time on smartphones and tablets than their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe.  Given Australia’s comparatively high smartphone penetration, it suggests there’s a lot more growth to be seen here in the next few years.

Late last year the IAB and Nielsen announced a partnership to launch a mobile audience panel measurement pilot.  The goal was to address industry demand for better mobile audience metrics, to support media planners and marketers in their mobile activity.

The pilot, which tracks the behaviour of 1500 Australians on mobile and tablet devices, is now in progress and Nielsen were able to share some of the first insights when they presented at the Mumbrella360 conference recently.

The data presented at Mumbrella360 included information about the number of estimated users per month of feature phones, smartphones, and tablets in Australia and the average monthly time spent on those devices.  What they found was that Australia has higher desktop and laptop usage compared to the USA and Italy and comparatively low usage of mobile devices compared to these and other countries, especially in Asia.  Given Australia’s extremely high smartphone penetration (85% of adults), the usage data suggests we have a long way to go in terms of growth.

Our lower usage may be a result of the availability of content and services for smartphones that are relevant for Australian audiences.  Certainly we are spending significantly more time on apps for smartphones and tablets than we are browsing the internet on these devices, as shown by the following charts from Mumbrella’s report:

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Looking at how Australians use apps, we can see usage is dominated by social media and gaming, whereas the browser has equal representation in areas like retail, finance and news:

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Given Australians spend significantly less time on apps and mobile sites that our US and European counterparts, there remains a fair amount of upside in our device usage in the coming months and years.   The question is, will this increased usage come from the browser or the world of downloaded applications.  The following two scenarios might be considered:

  1. More and better-optimised mobile content and sites in a broader range of categories, lifting the amount of usage time we see devoted to browsing on mobile devices.
  2. New, single purpose apps across a broader range of categories, lifting time spent on apps overall, with less dominance overall on social media and games.

Scenario two was raised by Mary Meeker in her recent Internet Trends Report in which she discussed a shift towards single purpose apps for smartphones and tablets.  A well known example of this is facebook’s recent shift from integrated messaging in the Facebook mobile app, to a standalone messaging app for mobile chatting.   The trend is discussed in some detail in this article Smartphones the silent killer of the web which introduces the idea of the ‘internet of apps’ and predicts the traditional internet will be left behind.  All the signs point towards this trend as being the more likely scenario.

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A slide from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report identifying the move towards single purpose adds

Another important element of the IAB / Nielsen  Measurement Pilot is to track mobile site and application usage data at a brand level for advertisers, and is supported by seven key publishers.  The preliminary data shared on the Mumbrella site shows rankings of site and app usage from companies like Facebook, Google, Fairfax, News Media, Twitter, Amazon and Yahoo.    You can see the detailed charts on Mumbrella’s report.

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