Canadians love apps for social, not shopping

Yahoo's Flurry offers a deep dive on Canadian mobile app usage

Yahoo has presented some of the data it’s collected on Canadian mobile users’ habits. Why is that a big deal? Well, its mobile app network, Flurry, has access to 146,000 apps and 37 million mobile devices in Canada. That gives Yahoo a uniquely comprehensive view of what Canadians are doing on their phones.

Yahoo’s report (presented at its Talking Mobile conference) found that Canadians are spending 7 million hours each month using mobile apps, about 88% of the total amount of time they spend on their phones. Those hours are spread across 2 billion sessions with apps of all kinds.

The apps we use most are for social media and messaging — which make up 39% of those 2 billion sessions we generate each month — and we’re using them 32% more often than we did last year.

That incredible volume largely comes down to one group of users: young people. Users aged 13-17 account for 40% of total social sessions compared to just 26% coming from the next-largest demo — the 18-24 set. Nearly half (49%) of all mobile app sessions come from users 13-24, meaning they account for about as much usage as everyone over 25 combined.

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It might come as a bit of a surprise, however, that the second-highest engagement category, mobile gaming, skews the other way and is mainly coming from adults 55 and up. Older adults account for some 44% of all gaming sessions, while teens 13-17 only make up 14%.

New this year

Yahoo also highlighted a few of-the-moment app categories that have seen a sharp spike in usage over the past year. Fitness apps and sports apps were the fastest-growing categories; engagement with fitness apps was up 140% since last year, now accounting for 9% of total app sessions, while sports apps were up 88%, though they still just make up 2% of total usage. Sports app usage was dominated by 35-54 adults, while health and fitness app usage was split evenly between adults 25-34 and 35-54.

Yahoo says that Canadians have shown a lot more enthusiasm for fitness and sports apps than most other markets. (Globally, fitness app usage was up 99%, and sports app usage was up 27%.)

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But one area where Canada lagged the rest of the world — and even retrenched a bit — was in lifestyle and shopping apps. Usage of shopping apps grew 143% globally between 2014 and 2015, but in Canada it fell by 3%. It seems Canadians aren’t that interested in shopping on mobile, or at least they haven’t been impressed by what online retailers have to offer.

It probably doesn’t help that many social networks that debuted mobile “buy buttons” this year (including Twitter and Pinterest) haven’t yet introduced the feature in Canada.

Yahoo also revealed that mobile app usage peaks for all age demos during primetime on weekdays.

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The report even suggests that apps “are the new primetime vehicle of choice” since many consumers will be using them while watching TV.

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