Mobile

Here’s what app addiction looks like on an international scale

Image Credit: Daniel Go

International markets are a clear opportunity for developers, without a doubt.

From the outside, however, it can be hard to take the pulse of cultures and communities halfway around the world. To borrow an old catchphrase from a childhood icon, where in the world is your audience (and how are they spending their time)?

At Mixpanel, we’ve made use of our newest metric, addiction, to see what types of apps people are loving right now in four hot international markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Germany. As a point of comparison, we’ve also included a chart for the United States. (Addiction is a measurement of frequency of engagement within a given time period; in this case, we looked at the number of unique hours spent engaging with certain apps in a single day.)

Mixpanel international app addiction chart
Click image for a larger version of this chart.

In all five countries, games were a standout vertical. Interestingly enough, addiction to gaming apps is consistent regardless of location. Across the world, a stable 41­-45 percent of gamers were engaged for 2 unique hours in a day, with fairly standardized progressions going from there. A small but loyal cohort (<10%) is engaged internationally for 8-plus hours ­­ presumably every waking hour that isn’t dedicated to work. Germany has the longest tail for games, but only by a slim margin, with 1% of users playing for 12 hours a day (compared to the same percentage in other countries, but in an 11­hour bucket).

Social is also a sure bet for international markets, but with some exceptions. Let’s start by focusing on stateside behavior: in the United States, 44 percent of people using social apps are engaged for 4-plus hours, and 8 percent are engaged for 8-plus hours. This is consistent with social addiction patterns we’ve identified in the past, and it may have to do with the degree to which social networks and their built­in messaging centers are replacing email. Many social networks have become the hub of communication for users, and staying involved is a natural impulse.

Addiction to social apps among Germans is in stark contrast to people in the U.S., though ­­ only 20 percent of people in Germany are using Social apps for 4-plus hours, less than half of what we see in the United States, Canada, Australia, or Brazil. Germany has been slow to catch on to social networks in general, and usage patterns indicate that while many people in Germany are using social networks, social apps haven’t yet become a part of the regular routine in the same way that they are elsewhere.

In the United States, Germany, Australia and Canada, Health apps also appear as a common interest, with near­ identical usage patterns: heavy in the 2­-hour and 3­-hour buckets, with a long tail of usage throughout the day. As we’ve noted in the past, patterns of addiction will reflect the app itself ­­ there’s a difference between a fitness band that syncs multiple times a day, an exercise app that’s only used once or twice a day, and a meal­ logging app that may be used more frequently (potential skew: snacks).

Every country we surveyed presents a unique opportunity for developers in the United States, our compass points toward Messaging apps, which are used steadily throughout the day by stable and addicted cohorts. This should come as no surprise, particularly considering the game­changing acquisition of WhatsApp earlier this year.

In Germany, the unique opportunity appears to be enterprise apps: around 60 percent of people are using enterprise products for three or more hours daily, and 20 percent are engaged for 5-plus hours. With the 13th largest workforce in the world, German workers are a ripe market ­­ and there’s certainly interest to be found in SaaS applications.

For developers with sights trained on the Canadian market, Photo/Video popped up as a popular contender for users’ attention ­­over 25 percent of people there are using Photo/Video apps for upwards of 4 hours every day.

In Brazil, music apps are where it’s at, although 83 percent of users seem to engage most heavily for two or three unique hours out of the day. This may have a lot to do with the design of the app itself; a person could listen to music for three hours straight, but not interact with it much.

Lastly, Australian users demonstrate a proclivity for advertising apps.­­ 86 percent engage with advertising apps for two hours every day. E­commerce is booming in Australia, and was a $37 billion industry in 2013. Ideally, Australians are receptive to advertising, and our data suggests that they’re eager to engage with it. This is not to underestimate digital window­ shopping ­­ whether or not addiction leads to conversion, of course, remains to be seen.

Suhail Doshi is the CEO of Mixpanel, which is focused on helping the world to learn from its data and do something with it.

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Mixpanel is the most advanced analytics platform in the world for mobile & web. Mixpanel's mission is to help the world learn from its data. To achieve this, they've built the most powerful web & mobile analytics platform in the world... read more »

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