comScore recently performed a U.S. market study of the fastest-growing mobile application (apps) and browser content categories. Social networking led as the top-gaining category for both application and browser access. The study also found that accessing bank accounts was one of the fastest-gaining categories.
"With mobile media consumption on the rise, the discussion of how consumers are accessing content -- whether it is via application, browser or both -- continues to be an important factor for companies looking to invest further in their mobile brands," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.
Regarding market penetration, 78 percent of smartphone users accessed their browser in April 2010, while 80 percent accessed applications. In comparison, just 19 percent of feature phone users accessed their browser, with 17 percent accessing applications.
Although smartphone users are driving growth in browser (up 111 percent in the past year) and application (up 112 percent) access, feature phone users still make up nearly half of all users accessing mobile browsers and apps.
In April 2010, 69.6 million mobile users accessed an application on their phone, an increase of 28 percent from the previous year. Several application categories experienced triple-digit growth in the past year, emphasizing the increasing popularity of this method as a form of mobile content access.
Social Networking experienced the strongest growth in app access, increasing 240 percent to 14.5 million users. Accessing News apps followed, growing 124 percent to 9.3 million users, while Sports Information apps experienced a 113-percent surge to nearly 7.7 million users. Bank Accounts apps also more than doubled their audience, growing to nearly 5 million users in April.
Nearly 73 million mobile users accessed their browser in April, an increase of 31 percent from the previous year. Social Networking ranked as the fastest-growing category accessed via browser, growing 90 percent from the previous year to reach almost 30 million users, followed by Bank Accounts (69 percent to 13.2 million users).
Online Retail sites also experienced a significant increase in audience usage via browser, increasing 47 percent to 7.3 million users, as Americans continued to show adoption of the mobile retail channel.
That said, social networking is by far the fastest-growing mobile activity right now. With 20 percent of mobile service subscribers now accessing social networking sites via their mobile phone.