By now we are all pretty much aware of the disruption that digital media has created in journalism, politics, education, and so much more, towards a paperless society. Digital media encompasses any media that is accessed through a digital electronic device: from reading articles, to playing videos, streaming music, playing games and even educating, almost everything can be accessed online now[1]. In 2017, 57% of all digital media engagement is driven through mobile apps, according to the 2017 US Mobile App Report from comScore[2]. The company tracks digital audiences on their use of desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as mobile web and app audiences. This report explores the behaviors of mobile media consumption and gives context to how that industry has evolved and how it keeps growing.

The report specifically targets “Mobile”, which refers to smartphone and tablet devices. In 2017, Smartphone apps alone (therefore, not including tablet apps) drive over half of all digital media usage. This is in comparison to the mobile web, where anything can be accessed but apps specifically tend to have more feasibility. Apps also dominate mobile web in terms of usage time: while 87% of time accessing digital media is spent on mobile apps, only 13% of time spent accessing digital media is through the mobile web.

Millennials continue to adapt to mobile trends to a point that questions if mobile apps can truly be addictive. The report finds that younger users between ages 18-24 spend more than 3 hours a day on apps. And they don’t just drive the consumption of mobile apps, they help drive their revenue. A survey shows that millennials are much more willing to spend money on downloading apps and are also more willing to make purchases within an app then their older counterparts.

So with so many apps available now, what makes people discern which apps to keep and use most frequently? It turns out that looks matter: according to the report, 21% of millennials will delete an app if they don’t like how it looks on their home screen. And distance matters, too. Millennials are more likely to consider “thumb reach” method when positioning apps on their screen, so as to make their most frequented apps as convenient as possible to access with one hand.

There is also a reported increase in the amount of people who allow apps to send “Push Notifications” in 2017, which are messages that pop up on mobile devices for updates on certain apps. Last year, there was a sense that “push notification fatigue” had started, with less users allowing them. The most notable increase in mobile app usage came from apps that categorize as “news/information”. It is possible that with so many news-worthy events happening in the last year, the increase in users allowing for push notifications indicates a desire to stay connected to the latest news.

The top 10 most used apps are ranked in the chart below. Of those ten, Facebook and Google combine to own 8 of the most used apps. Facebook in particular has the highest amount of users among all mobile apps:

most used apps chart


With mobile engagement becoming more prevalent, the stock market has reacted as well: FANG, the acronym for large-cap tech stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) have led the way for the market’s bull run. In fact, Goldman Sachs reported that the top-5 companies in the tech sector in terms of gains have contributed about 40% to the S&P 500’s overall gains for the year[3]. Despite the slight pullback in June in the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index and high valuations in the sector, there hasn’t been much resistance to their growth. Mobile app usage is at all-time highs and there is seemingly no end to their usefulness. As mobile tech continues to develop, it’s becoming clear that mobile devices will soon be applicable to every aspect of life, and companies will need to continue to evolve to the consumers demands.


An investor cannot invest directly in an index. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author, and may not actually come to pass. This information is subject to change at any time, based on market and other conditions and should not be construed as a recommendation of any specific security or investment plan. Past performance does not guarantee future results.