Social media apps overwhelmingly dominate mobile traffic

Andrew Meola

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To the surprise of few, social media eats up the most time spent on mobile devices.

The latest Global Internet Phenomena Report by Sandvine tracked March data from multiple Internet service providers and confirmed that social media is the main traffic driver on the mobile web. The firm measured traffic during the peak hours of 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. and broke out data consumption in terms of upstream consumption, or uploading content, and downstream consumption, or downloading content.

YouTube represented the greatest share of U.S. mobile traffic at 19%, and more people downloaded and streamed content (21%) than uploaded (5%). Based on the study, YouTube remains the go-to destination for video consumption among U.S. mobile users.

Facebook ranked second with a 14% share, though this number does not include WhatsApp and Instagram. Upstream and downstream connections among users stood at 15% and 21%, respectively, which shows people upload and download content on Facebook at a relatively equal rate. And the bandwidth consumed on Facebook should rise in the future as Facebook continues to grow its video offerings and promotes virtual reality content.

Instagram by itself ranked fifth with a 6.3% share of total U.S. mobile traffic, and this should also rise as Facebook promotes the platform more. Interestingly, Facebook would have the largest share at 22% after combining Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Snapchat placed behind Instagram at 5.1%, an impressive feat given the company’s youth and size. It also led all messaging apps by beating WhatsApp and Kik. The data consumption numbers of the company, however, are not surprising considering that the platform’s primary messaging is videos and photos. And Snapchat’s share should also increase as it expands its offerings and attracts more advertisers.

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