404 Web Browsing as an Engagement Metric for Mobile

Web Browsing as an Engagement Metric for Mobile

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Platform and browser share of web browsing statistics get used quite a bit. Yet, I’m not entirely sure this is the best metric, let alone the only metric, that is useful to indicate what has happening on mobile devices. We hear this word engagement thrown around frequently. But what does that really mean in a world where experienced smartphone and tablet owners spread their attention across a multitude of screens and platforms.

During the desktop web era, engagement was easy to gauge. The desktop web was really the only web in town. Even today it is interesting to see the global statistics for time spent engaging on the web favoring the larger screen PC form factor.

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The install base of smartphones has either just passed or is about to pass the install base of PCs (desktops and notebooks) yet the above chart shows that web usage is still dominated by larger screen PC like devices.

In the chart at the top from NetMarketShare it includes both tablet and smartphone operating systems. At a WW level, for mobile devices, iOS easily dominates web usage. Yet, this statistic alone, “engagement” is not limited just to browsing the web. What can not be tracked so easily (publicly) is engagement of a device or platform as a whole. It is likely Apple or Google know something about how iOS and Android are used every day by their customers but that data will never see the light of day.

Consumers browse the web, play games, download apps, watch videos, shop, talk on the phone, text/use messaging apps, use certain apps more than others, etc. I call this share of compute time. What I am interested in is what the share of compute time of a mobile device or tablet actually is with a consumer. Does Android or iOS have the larger share of compute time as a mobile platform? That is the ultimate question. We can circle around this data with app store statistics, engagement data from certain apps like Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, and mobile shopping data, etc., but a firm data point will be harder to come by.

That being said, the metric of web browsing will be an interesting one to watch. On my podcast with Benedict Evans he has said multiple times that we don’t even know it will be like going to a website in five years time. How we engage and browse the Interwebs could be entirely different in 5 years. We simply don’t know.

What we do know is that people will have a small computer in their pocket. It will be with them at all times. They will want to discover, pay, learn, play, be assisted, communicate, and any number of things with this device. The platforms that help consumers get the most out of these products will be the ones that win.

  • stefnagel

    Sweet graphics.