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Nielsen: Instagram bigger than Twitter on mobile in 2013

Analytics firm finds that the photo and video-sharing app has an average monthly smartphone audience of 32 million, compared with Twitter's 30.8 million.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom at a press event in December.
Sarah Tew/CNET

On smartphones, Facebook-owned Instagram proved more popular than its social-networking rival and would-be acquirer Twitter, according to new data published by analytics firm Nielsen.

Nielsen's top 10 smartphone apps of 2013. Nielsen

The firm ranked Instagram seventh on its Top 10 list of smartphone apps and counted an average monthly audience of roughly 32 million people. Instagram also proved to be the fastest-growing app of the year, growing its audience 66 percent year-over-year.

Twitter, meanwhile, came in tenth place with a monthly audience of 30.8 million people, on average.

Nielsen's data reflects the average monthly unique users, ages 18 and up, for apps on iOS and Android, as measured between January and October 2013.

While the official user numbers -- Instagram has 150 million active users; Twitter has an audience of more than 230 million people -- suggest that Twitter has a comfortable lead over Instagram, Nielsen's year-in-review finding tells a different story.

Unsurprisingly, Nieslen's data awarded Facebook with the top honor of most-used smartphone app. With an average monthly audience of 103.4 million people across iOS and Android, Facebook reigned supreme in 2013. The social network's arguably bigger win, though, was with Instagram, which it purchased in a deal originally valued at $1 billion.

But Twitter also tried to buy Instagram, and now Facebook has far more than bragging rights. Its high-priced get is getting a larger number of people to use its iOS and Android apps than Twitter's apps on a monthly basis. That's worth a heck of a lot as both public companies compete to increase their market value and grow their advertising revenue.