New research from mobile analytics firm Flurry suggests that Facebook is so powerful a force on mobile that the social network has become synonymous with browsing on smartphones and tablets.
Facebook accounts for 18 percent of U.S. consumers' total time spent on smart devices, a percent that translates to more than 28 minutes per day on average, according to Flurry, which measures application usage on more than 1 billion monthly active smart devices.
The firm, which used its data in conjunction with numbers from ComScore and NetMarketShare, said that, on the whole, consumers spend an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on smartphones and tablets, with 80 percent of time spent inside applications and 20 percent on the mobile Web.
Facebook ranked second only to games -- the entire category, that is, not just any one single app -- in terms of apps and services commanding the most attention. Games accounted for 32 percent of time spent per day. The social network, however, racked up more minutes per day than any single mobile phone browser, Flurry determined. The finding paints a picture of Facebook as standing in for the mobile browser.
"If we ... consider the proportion of Facebook app usage that is within their web view (aka browser), then we can assert that Facebook has become the most adopted browser in terms of consumer time spent," Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf wrote in a blog post.
Khalaf asserts that many people use Facebook to consume Web content, an action otherwise known as browsing. The Facebook user who clicks on links or articles is shown a Facebook-made Web view of the content, which means they're staying inside the social network to perform much of their mobile browsing activities.
Though Facebook maintains such a commanding presence on mobile, all is not lost for other mobile application developers. Flurry found steady growth over the last two years in the average number of apps consumers launch per day. The number grew from 7.2 apps launched per day in 2010 to 7.9 by 2012. Consumers are downloading new apps, which means there's still room for breakthrough applications, Khalaf said.