In many ways, mobile devices have overtaken computers as the most popular device for going online. So what exactly are users clicking on – web apps, native apps, or browsing on a mobile search engine? It’s a pattern analysts and software developers are always trying to trace in order to predict where the mobile market is headed. On PCs we go straight to a search engine like Google or Bing, but mobile is very different.
A recent study suggests that search is not relevant on mobile devices like it is on computers. On mobile devices, users are statistically more likely to turn to native apps or web apps than they are to browse a search engine.
As explained in a post by Greg Sterling of Search Engine Land:
“While the data vary by vertical and device category search engine usage was secondary to direct navigation across the board. For example, in the Travel category, tablet users went directly to familiar sites/apps (46 percent) or apps/sites they had previously used (49 percent) more often than they used search engines (15 percent) to find information. Smartphone users also went directly to websites/apps in all three verticals more often than they used search engines for information:
- Direct navigation — 43 percent
- Search engine –24 percent
- Direct navigation — 46 percent
- Search engine –37 percent
- Direct navigation — 44 percent
- Search engine — 33 percent
In an unrelated study Nielsen found that US mobile device owners were spending 81 percent of their time in apps vs. on the mobile web.”
When users aren’t using native apps during 81% of their time, they are most likely navigating directly to web apps. The way users navigate on a mobile device is drastically different than the way they use PCs. While this is not surprising, due to the buzz around native and mobile apps, it suggests something bigger for mobile search. Perhaps the lack of mobile browsing comes from usability issues, and means necessary evolution for mobile search companies.
What are your thoughts on mobile browsing? Let us know in the comments section.