New Report: Millennials Hate Apps With Uncool Design

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Millennials are killing off apps with uncool design at a breakneck pace, location reigns supreme when it comes to app usage and Snapchat is closing in on Instagram.

According to Comscore's annual mobile app report, logos matter and apps will be deleted if millennials don't like how it looks on their screen. About 21% of these millennials eliminated apps from their phones this year while Generation X was more forgiving, with only 2% removing apps that had a design that didn't appeal to them.

"Millennials identify closely with their smartphones, and nearly every aspect of their lives is integrated with it," says Adam Lella, senior marketing analyst at Comscore. "For that reason, the apps on their phone represent who they are. Even if an app serves a practical need or purpose, many Millennials don't want it on their phone if they don't like the way it looks and represents them."

Meanwhile, Snapchat has made a roaring comeback to catch up with newfound rival Instagram, as both are neck-and-neck when it comes to mobile app penetration among adults 18-to-55, Comscore states. The two are both ranked sixth, with Instagram moving up three spots from last year while Snapchat moved up a whopping seven spots from 13.

Overall, Facebook and Google own eight of the 10 most used apps, as Snapchat and Pandora are the only two in the top 10 that aren't owned by the so-called duopoly. Facebook retains its No. 1 position as most used app, which is followed by Google, Comscore states.

However, when it comes to usage by 18-to-24-year-olds, Snapchat is ranked third, sitting behind Facebook (No.2) and YouTube (No. 1), the report states. Instagram ranked fifth.

Perhaps the next nut to crack for marketers is figuring out a way to land prime real estate on the user's phone.

"There's a strong correlation between how essential an app is to a user and whether it gets placed on their home screen," Comscore said in the report. Apps that were ranked "most essential" often found their way on the user's primary home screen.

More users are also placing their apps into folders and denying new app installs from sending them push notifications, ComScore states in the report. At the same time, more people are placing the apps they frequent most on the home screen, within easy reach when holding their smartphone with one hand.

Of the 1,003 people Comscore surveyed for the report, nearly 50% of them put Facebook on their primary home screen. The app's usage, meanwhile, sat at roughly 40%, highest among all apps.

Despite Facebook's high usage, millennials appear to rank utility apps higher than social apps. Thirty-five percent of the age group selected Amazon as one of three apps they can't go without, followed by Gmail (30%) and Facebook (29%), Comscore states.

Other factoids:

  • Digital media usage time is driven by smartphone apps, with apps accounting for 87% of all time spent on mobile devices. The mobile web accounted for the remaining 13% and both figures are unchanged from last year, Comscore states.
  • Consumers reported a wide variety of apps when asked what app they considered their "hidden gem." Flipboard, The Score, Telegram, goodreads, Wattpad and ibotta were among the many apps that fell in this category.
  • The open mobile web dominates apps when it comes to reach, but it's unclear for how much longer that will be the case. A comparison of the top 500 apps versus the top 500 mobile websites shows that open mobile web has audiences nearly 2.2-times the size of apps, according to ComScore, but that figure is down from last year, when it was 3-times larger.
  • A majority share of smartphone users don't download any apps in a month, and the average user downloads two. Meanwhile, millennials still have a lot of excitement for new apps, but older smartphone users do not match millennials' level of interest.
  • Forty-four percent of millennials said they use at least 21 apps or more each month.
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