New comScore report: Mobile is huge for digital media, but favors well-established apps

mobile drawing canvas 130hcomScore’s U.S. Mobile App Report covers some interesting ground in how people are (and aren’t) using their smartphones and tablets. Activity on mobile devices makes up 60 percent of digital media time in the U.S. The majority of that digital media is consumed through apps; those programs account for 52 percent of the country’s digital media time.

Where does music fall in that mobile trend? MusicAlly reported on comScore’s analysis and found some strong performances among digital music platforms. Pandora was one of the best in that field, ranking as the fifth most popular app in the nation with 69 million monthly users. YouTube, which has more than just music under its umbrella, was the No. 2 app with 83.4 million monthly users. iTunes Radio/iCloud secured 40.5 million monthly users and Shazam had 18.4 million.

comScore app downloads

Quartz picked up on another intriguing facet to the report, which is how app downloads can become static. The data found that 65.5 percent of U.S. smartphone users don’t download any apps in a usual month. That doesn’t mean the available programs don’t have value, but the phone owners tend to quickly settle into their habits. The report found that 42 percent of all time spent in smartphone apps happens in a person’s single most-used program.

This is just the latest in a long chain of research pointing to mobile devices as the tools of choice for media. (See past reports from Edison ResearchTriton DigitalcomScore/Millennial Media, and AYTM Market Research for a sampling of where the sector’s going.) So success with on-the-go platforms will likely be key for any digital music to achieve popularity, much less financial viability. The music apps that landed high enough to be included in the rankings are from some of the more mature companies in the digital field. For a music upstart to break through on mobile, it’ll need enough buzz to supplant the existing leaders or a unique offering that people can’t get from another service.

Anna Washenko