The number of unique users visiting Facebook over the past twelve months has remained relatively flat but preference for its mobile app does appear to be growing, according to SimilarWeb. More directly, overall traffic to the company's website and its mobile webpage have fallen during that period but the use of its applications has increased. That's true for each of those but for the main Facebook app, in particular, penetration of the market has gone up by 6-percent year-over-year. That app is installed on an estimated 70-percent of all Android devices, as of the last count. Although that doesn't necessarily account for the installation of the app by some OEMs out of the box, the average time spent in the app has increased by 20-percent. That means users now spend an average of an hour using the app. Traffic losses, meanwhile, meanwhile, primarily stems from users either no longer accessing the mobile variant of the website or accessing it less.
The implication of that is that users are shifting away from the browser versions of Facebook's services – including Messenger, Instagram, and Whatsapp – in favor or more convenient mobile apps. A portion of that shift is undoubtedly caused by the website recommending that mobile users switch to the app. However, SimilarWeb suggests that's led by Facebook's efforts to meet consumer demands for a multi-channel social experience. The company has increasingly made efforts to not only create consistency in some features found across each of the above-mentioned services. It has also placed an emphasis on what sets those platforms apart in order to serve the needs of users with a preference for any of the given applications. By comparison, the website effectively brings several of those under a single site. While that can be convenient in its own right, users appear to be showing less interest in that.
On the other hand, Facebook has also done a relatively good job of routing web traffic through its applications. According to data pooled by the research firm Mixpanel, the company's app now holds at or above 10-percent of the market share in terms of browsing in some U.S. states. So the shift in user preference and numbers isn't entirely unexpected.