Apple’s Steve Jobs declared somewhat famously in April that people don’t search on the phone, but rather use apps to find the nearest restaurant or to read the news.
But now there’s at least some evidence that people are tapping both applications and the browser nearly equally, which should be a wake-up call to media companies or advertisers that are favoring one over the other. “Although growth in application usage on smartphones continues to grab the spotlight in the mobile market, the audience using their mobile browser remains larger and is growing just as quickly,” said Mark Donovan, comScore’s SVP of mobile.
During the same month that Jobs made those statements, comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) found that nearly 73 million mobile users accessed their browser in April, or more than the 69.6 million mobile users who accessed applications. (See full report here.)
Users of both groups are increasing year-over-year at about the same rate with applications experiencing 28 percent growth, and the number of people accessing the browser jumping by 31 percent. In terms of penetration, 78 percent of smartphone users accessed their browser, while 80 percent of smartphone users accessed applications. In the past year, browser usage has grown 111 percent, nearly tying with applications which grew by 112 percent.
The report also looked at the leading growth categories for both browsers and applications. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) should feel some vindication with search ranking as the 10th fastest growing category in terms of applications, while it was the fifth fastest-growing category in the browser. For both mediums, social networking ranked No. 1 with browser access jumping by 90 percent year-over-year and application access skyrocketing by 240 percent year-over-year.
For both sources, other popular areas were news, sports and general reference. The surprise category was checking bank accounts, which ranked second in the browser (growing 60 percent) and fourth via applications (growing 111 percent).
We’ll be addressing some of these themes during our next conference, PaidContent2010 Mobile: Leveraging the Smartphone Boom, July 20 in New York City. You can find out more about the agenda and register at http://paidcontent.org/event/mobile2010/.