With the ever-increasing capabilities of smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s unsurprising that users consistently use these devices for more than just making phone calls and having video chats. What you may not expect is that the rate of mobile device non-talk time growth is beginning to slow.

In a recent eMarketer forecast, the data showed that mobile non-talk time was only expected to increase by 11.3% in 2015, bringing the total daily average for non-talk time to just under three hours. Of course, the slowdown isn’t necessarily anything new. It began in 2012 and the forecast predicts that the growth of non-talk time on mobile devices will drop out of double digits by as early as 2016.

What does this mean in terms of actual time growth? Among US adults, mobile usage excluding talk time is only expected to grow from 2 hours and 54 minutes per day this year to 3 hours and 8 minutes next year. Growing by only 14 minutes a day isn’t much when you consider that the daily growth from 2011 to 2012 was 42 minutes.

The reason for the trend of declining year over year growth is likely due to the fact that many adults in the US already utilize smartphones or other mobile devices with enhanced capabilities, shrinking the market for new users. It’s also possible that limitations with what a user can do with their mobile device is also hindering growth. For instance, the most popular non-talk mobile activities for adult users to engage in this year are:

  • Radio – 44 minutes per day
  • Social media – 27 minutes per day
  • Video – 26 minutes per day.

The eMarketer forecast shows that what growth there is on mobile devices will most likely come from apps. Within the next year, the time US smartphone and tablet users spend in apps will increase to 3 hours 15 minutes per day. Conversely, mobile browser usage is expected to hold steady at 51 minutes in 2015 and 2016. This could mean that the ability to advertise within mobile applications will overshadow the usefulness of mobile website advertisements.

While the decline in the mobile usage growth rate may be disheartening to some marketers, it bears mention that mobile is the only channel eMarketer forecasts growth within. Radio, television and print are all expected to decline in daily usage, though the steady forecast for online and mobile video may suggest that people are simply swapping their television viewing time for a different media channel. Even though people are forecasted to continue viewing roughly four hours of television daily, the effectiveness of advertising through this channel remains an unknown due to the decline in viewers who watch TV—and the accompanying commercials—live.


eMarketer. Growth of Time Spent on Mobile Devices Slows. October 7, 2015.