mobile appMobile app usage continues to exhibit extraordinary growth, increasing 76 percent year-over-year in 2014, according to the latest market data from Yahoo’s mobile advertising platform provider Flurry.

Defining app usage “as a user opening an app and recording what we call a session,” Flurry’s latest annual research report reveals that apps in the “Shopping, Utilities & Productivity” and “Messaging” categories registered triple-digit growth in the year just past.

Commenting on the latest annual market study, Flurry’s sixth, the company stated: “Where years past have seen massive growth in games and entertainment, 2014 was the year apps got down to business… As our mobile devices become more and more a part of our everyday lives, we are increasingly using them for always-on shopping, working, and communication.”

Lifestyle and shopping app usage rose 174 percent in 2014, while utilities and productivity app usage shot up 121 percent, according to Flurry’s latest report. Messaging and social app usage more than doubled, increasing 103 percent.

Music, media and entertainment app usage and games saw slower growth, posting annual growth rates of 33 percent and 30 percent, respectively, in 2014.

Retail Mobile App Usage
“Retail came to mobile in a big way” in 2014, Flurry highlights. “Sessions in shopping apps on iOS and Android increased by a whopping 174 percent year-over-year. Usage of mobile apps in the shopping category for Android alone increased 220 percent.

Growth in app usage for enhancing productivity and organizing work and personal life surged in 2014, evidence of which has been demonstrated by “Microsoft’s mobile moves this past year,” Flurry points out. “The quintessential productivity suite – Office – is now available on mobile, and not just Windows but Apple and Android.

Microsoft also looked to enhance its mobile presence by acquiring email app Acompli, Flurry continues. “It makes sense that productivity in the cloud should be mobile-first, powering the ‘anytime, anywhere’ nature of the way we work today.”

Ongoing triple-digit growth in messaging has led some to develop into mobile platforms that offer other services, such as payments in the case of SnapChat and Japan’s LINE, as well as games distribution, in the case of TenCents WeChat, Flurry notes. “We agree with Fred Wilson that these Asian messaging powerhouses will set their sights on the U.S. market this year,” the mobile advertising and analytics provider commented.

Growth in mobile game apps slowed to 30 percent in 2014 from 61 percent in 2013, suggesting that the category is already reaching maturity, according to Flurry. The same goes for mobile apps in Flurry’s Music, Media & Entertainment category, which slowed to 33 percent in 2014 from 79 percent in 2013.

“This double-digit growth is impressive in any context, but we are witnessing a shift where the growth in mobile has moved from apps for entertainment to apps that help us accomplish our daily tasks,” Flurry comments.

Mobile Shopping
Mobile shopping apps, on the other hand, had a “phenomenal year.” Analyzing zip codes to get a handle on where mobile shopping apps are being used, Flurry found that “we shop on our phones when we are out and about during the day, with Shopping app use spiking during the commute time of 9 a.m. and lunchtime at noon.”

According to Flurry’s analysis, use of mobile shopping apps spikes again during prime-time at 8 p.m. at home, with some mobile shoppers carrying on “all night into the wee hours of the morning.”

Evolution of mobile app use and behavior poses retailers with vast new opportunities and significant challenges, Flurry says. “Target said it views ‘mobile as the new front door to Target,” Flurry notes, “and that mobile front door is increasingly in-app.”

Sixty-eight percent of time spent on Target’s mobile retail properties was in-app as opposed to Web-based. That’s up from 21 percent in 2013, according to comScore. “Retailers need to adjust to the new reality of a multitude of stores in every consumer’s pocket, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Flurry writes.