Recently, Flurry Analytics posted data that shows that app usage on phones has overtaken web usage. Ok, I can buy that. In fact, I'm surprised it's taken this long to happen. Wired.com posted an article about a year ago that talked about the decline in web browsing. I've often said that mobile browsing is "task specific" simply because the medium is not optimized for long term reading or interaction because of the size of the screen. Note: I'm not saying people don't do it. I'm just saying that it's not optimal. Which means that as soon as something better comes along, people will switch to that.
An article on the msgme.com blog brings up a question that I've asked several times. "How do you define app usage vs. mobile usage?" If I use Instagram, it posts my photos to the web. Does that count as 10% web? If I use the Facebook app, that obviously pulls all of its contents from the web. Does that count as 50% web? Does Netflix, the most bandwidth intensive activity you'll ever do on your mobile device, count as 100% app? The same question goes the other way. Does "web usage" only mean using mobile Safari or another browser?
I have often seen these statistics around "mobile web usage" but I've never seen anyone adequately define the line between "browsing" and simply "data transfer". In the Wired article, they did not mean the "web" is dead. They meant people are switching to other mediums to get their data. That distinction seems very important so we can determine the potential market for our apps vs. mobile websites, and where we should be focusing our efforts moving forward.