Here's a sign the world may be getting sick of social media apps

Yahoo Finance notes this morning -

It looks like the world may be experiencing serious app fatigue. People aren’t spending as much time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter apps, according to new data analysis from Tel Aviv-based digital marketing firm SimilarWeb.

The study aggregated data from hundreds of millions of Android devices across nine countries — Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US — and compared app data from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of this year. 

It turns out that Americans, in particular, spent significantly less time on the so-called big four apps in the first part of 2016 than they did in the first part of 2015, according to SimilarWeb. There was a 19.21% decrease in Snapchat use, 36.16% decrease on Instagram, 27.94% decrease in Twitter and 6.7% Facebook. 

The social media behemoths are also having a hard time getting people to actually download the apps. According to SimilarWeb, installs were down an average of 9% on all four social apps. 

In a world where people won’t leave the house without their smartphones, why would folks start to forgo their apps?

Last year, Larry Seltzer (formerly of Ars Technica) made the argument that “apps aren’t really necessary” and that consumers might have a better experience using the a web browser instead of apps. “Updating apps is a pain that users often ignore, leaving broken or vulnerable versions in use long after they’ve been allegedly patched,” Seltzer writes. 

The case for a return to the desktop is a convincing one, because it involves no installation, no updates and more storage. 

Despite the recent drop in app usage, Americans still remain the most voracious consumers of social media on apps (except for Twitter — Brazilians spend the most time per day on the app). 

Americans spend the most time on Facebook among all social media apps: about 45 minutes per day this year versus 49 minutes per day last year. People in the US spend about 30 minutes every day on Instagram in the first quarter of last year, compared to 20 minutes per day this year.


This is the first time the firm has analyzed these four specific apps, SimilarWeb spokesperson Jonathan Marciano told Yahoo Finance. The study solely focused on nine countries and what SimilarWeb deemed the major social media companies.

We haven’t completely ditched apps, though 
Although we may be spending less time on the mainstream social apps than we used to, Marciano notes that smaller social media apps have been picking up market share.

Social news site Reddit’s unofficial app Reddit is Fun saw year-over-year growth in daily usage in every country except South Africa. Q&A site Quora saw a surge in usage — there was 10.9% growth in the US since last year, though it saw the most growth in Spain (169.18% year-over-year growth). And LinkedIn
saw 7.85% growth in the US since last year.

Of course, when it comes to app domination, Facebook still remains king. Facebook not only owns Instagram but also has a standalone Messenger app and Whatsapp in its portfolio. SimilarWeb did not include either of those apps as a part of time spent on Facebook. The study does highlight that Android installs of Facebook’s Messenger app increased 2% and Whatsapp downloads increased 15% over the past year. 

Though we may not be spending as much time on the “big four,” these social media giants will continue to scale and acquire smaller players — which will make it impossible for us to avoid falling prey to their dominance. For example, Twitter acquired Periscope last year, and though SimilarWeb doesn’t have year-over-year growth on the app, Marciano says “average use is extremely high.” 

So while we may be spending more time on smaller apps, they could ultimately be the acquisition targets of the very giants we’re eschewing.

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