Which Key Smartphone Apps Grew Their Reach Last Year?

February 23, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Media & Entertainment | Mobile Phone | Retail & E-Commerce | Social Media

comScore-Top-Social-Messaging-App-Reach-in-2015-Feb2016It was a strong year for Facebook-owned mobile apps, but not so for some other top applications, according to a MarketingCharts review of comScore data. Each month comScore publishes a ranking of the top 15 apps by reach among adult smartphone mobile media users (iOS and Android platforms), with the top apps typically dominated by Facebook and Google properties.

Indeed, Facebook ended the year with 3 apps in the top 10, including the top 2 (Facebook and Facebook Messenger). Each enjoyed strong growth throughout the year:

  • Facebook ended the year with 76.8% reach, up from 69.7% in January;
  • Facebook Messenger’s reach grew from 47.4% in January to 62.5% in December; and
  • Instagram continued to increase its reach, up from 33.7% to 39.1%.

Other leading social networking apps don’t appear to have fared quite as well. While Twitter remained in the top 15 throughout the year, it ended the year not far from where it started (24.5% reach in December versus 23.6% in January). And while Google+ and Pinterest began the year within the top 15 apps (with 21.8% and 18.9% reach, respectively), both were off the list by June and would not crack it again for the rest of the year. Considering that the 15th-ranked app in December (Twitter) had a reach of 24.5% of the smartphone mobile media audience, this indicates that both Google+ and Pinterest failed to keep pace with the growth of other key applications.

Interestingly, while Snapchat made an appearance among the top 15 apps at points during the first 7 months of the year (with its 21.9% reach in July its top showing), it failed to make the list during the latter months of the year.

With smartphone penetration having already hit high levels among teens and Millennials by the end of 2014, Snapchat’s absence from the list might simply be a reflection of a greater age diversity in the US’ increasing smartphone audience as the year went on, with its popularity mainly residing with youth. Even so, Instagram’s continued increase in reach during 2015 suggests that it did a better job connecting with older audiences, who have previously been forecast to contribute to its growth in the years to come.

What About Entertainment Apps?

Meanwhile, comScore’s data shows that YouTube also gained during the year, growing from 54.5% reach among adult smartphone mobile media users in January to 61.3% in December. Pandora Radio, though, which had once attained majority reach in these rankings, remained relatively flat throughout the year. And while Apple Music increased its reach by almost 10 points during the year, that may have been at least in part attributable to a methodology change from comScore mid-way through the year.

Behold the Holiday Bump

Finally, a look at Amazon Mobile’s reach throughout the year provides confirmation as to the role played by mobile devices during the holiday season (as well as Amazon’s continued dominance in e-commerce). In fact, while Amazon Mobile’s reach increased incrementally during the year, it enjoyed a spike in December, ending the year as the 10th-ranked app with 38.7% reach.

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