Having found last year’s first YMDC pretty informative (see my post on it) I decided to attend yet again this year the 2nd edition of the Yahoo MDC. I took shots of the slides I found interesting and I’ll replace them with higher quality ones as the slides and/or videos become available on http://ymdcsf2016.tumblr.com/.
This time I did arrive in time for Marissa Mayer’s keynote. One interesting slide was the growth in usage time having shifted towards the lower tier apps, not in the Top 25. The rest of the deck was a summary of what was detailed in the later sessions.
Session: The State of Mobile 2016
Simon Khalaf followed with interesting insights into the state of mobile. First he gave us the good news.
The mobile growth of app sessions last year was an average of 58% with media consumption and productivity apps leading the growth.
Mobile addicts are still on the rise, this year by 60%. Apparently you’re a mobile addict if you’re checking the phone more than 60 times a day, which is almost 4 times during every awake hour.
So how many mobile addicts are there? 280 million by this year. If they were a country, it would the 4th largest, just after the US.
Next we were introduced to some statistics about the US mobile users.
On average, mobile users in the US spend more than 4 hours a day on their devices. 91% of that time (3.8 hours) they use apps and only 9% of the time is spent in a browser. The time spent in the mobile browser reduced by 50% during the past two years.
Time spent in gaming apps reduced by 36% year over year. This is explained part by an increase in monetization (gamers making in-app purchases to get faster progression in games) and e-sports (just like for traditional sports, gamers like to watch other more skilled gamers play).
Messaging and social apps saw a whopping 50% increase in usage time, at least in the US. This makes it on average over an hour a day.
This is an even more dramatic increase if we aggregate the messaging and social usage with the other media media consumption apps. This leads to a 108% increase compared to last year and up to an hour and a half.
It took the TV 37 years to reach the same engagement level which mobile reached in only 7 years. Unexpectedly the TV industry is in crisis especially as the 12-34 years age group is watching around 40% less TV compared to 5 years ago (a drop of almost 10% per year).
Mobile is absorbing those TV minutes:
and some of its revenue:
Now comes the less than good news. First the growth rate in app sessions is still declining. Last year was the first when the growth rate dipped below 100%. But to put this in context, it’s no longer an explosion just high growth.
The smartphone shipments also slowed down. The new devices are not that much better to warrant an upgrade.
Both are signs of a maturing market. Now the growth is in software which is reflected in the fluctuation of the US stock prices of some of the major mobile hardware and software companies.
Simon’s theory that we’re approaching a Mobile 2.0 moment towards the end of 2016: developers need to enrich the app experience on phablets with larger screens and batteries and also more processing power.
Phablets are also where users increasingly spend their time.
The phablet form factor is expected to dominate the smartphone market in a few quarters.
Media consumption and phablets go hand in hand.
Apps for content creation, messaging and productivity have seen a 20-30% growth above the average of 58% growth in app sessions.
The other growth opportunity hinted at by Simon are local services which he considers to be currently underserved by mobile at this time. We’re talking about a $800B market (again, just for the US alone).
Session: What’s Next? The Messaging Revolution
Before lunch there was a discussion panel on messaging with the tech execs of Slack, Uber and Assist. Operator was a notable absence (announced but missing – insert bad joke here 🙂 ).
Some thoughts from the discussion:
- Apps are expensive to build
- App fatigue is a reality with users being increasingly reluctant to install new apps to their phones
- Messaging apps dominate the app dock of both iOS and Android
- Messaging platforms are on the rise
- Messaging apps have less UI functionality and more server heavy. This allows instant publishing (on the server side) of new features
- Still, there’s also a lot of fragmentation of messaging apps and platforms
- Supporting multiple languages in messaging apps is a challenge
- While text is archaic, voice is easier, yet they do coexist nicely and are useful in different scenarios (text on bus, office, voice at home etc.)
- Bot messaging counterparts can be human, machine or hybrid (human for triaging and/or exceptions and bot for routine)
- SMS is still mostly too expensive, stale, not real-time and does not support user sessions
- Will we see few or lots of bot agents (like Amazon’s Alexa)? They expect probably few because a bot agent requires commitment and trust. They do expect Google to be the biggest player.
- Messaging with bots is still in the early stages and there are still many unknowns.
Session:The App Lifecycle
David Iudica shared some results of study they did on 2k+ users from the US.
A third of these users do need a new apps, mostly in the entertainment, content and manage/navigate space.
There is a general consensus that the apps on phablets should do more and be of different types, suitable for more use cases. 42% also expect to be able to use more apps.
So what apps would they want to see changed on a phablet? Again, it’s the entertainment, content and manage/navigate types which lead their preferences.
What makes users download a new app? Apparently boredom, personal recommendation and kids’ preferences lead the pack.
However, apps with negative reviews will be a big deterrent to downloading an app. But storage space restrictions are also a significant factor.
Assuming an app got installed, David went on to describe the life expectancy of such an app. First of all, users delete installed apps mostly during periodic clean out, which happens up to twice a month.
Depending on the category, most dormant apps survive up to 3 months before getting deleted.
There are also other factors which trigger the deletion of an app. Boredom, alternative apps, too many ads and storage constraints are primary reasons.
Friends and family suggestions as well as ads are effective in convincing at least half of the users to restart using an otherwise dormant app. Discounts are also effective but so are new feature notifications.
Actions to be taken against app replacement:
Just as the last year, there was a big push for Flurry and native ads. This is understandable since flurry is free and so was the conference. In the end that’s how they make money.
Flurry has gender and age based analytics and some notable new features: real time analytics, support for Apple tvOS and they just announced monitoring mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Mobile Action went through some app store optimization strategies. That’s what they do.
PicCollage had a separate session. They use tools to optimize the app store keywords. They grew to 100M+ downloads in 7 months and the app is localized in 12 languages. They started running lots of experiments with partial rollouts (in Google play; they did not talk about the App Store).
Although heavily focused on Flurry, it was still a conference worthwhile to attend, especially if you’re local to the SF Bay Area. I would rate it more towards a product manager conference because on the technical side there weren’t many deep dives. There’s hope that, despite the difficulties that it’s facing, Yahoo will keep this conference going for the next years and maybe diversify it a bit, especially on the technical side (e.g. more case studies from their big apps).
A key takeaway is the rise of phablets and the need to optimize apps to their improved capabilities.