App Usage Exploded in 2013, Except for News and Magazine Apps

Which plodded along, but ultimately lost ground in the race to control the distribution of content.
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If mobile is eating the world, as analyst Benedict Evans contends, then journalism should be worried. 

The app analytics firm Flurry put out a new chart showing the year over year growth in app usage among various categories. Messaging and social apps continued to surge, as did productivity apps. Even games, which consumed an enormous amount of time already, continued to grow at a rapid clip.

But take a look at the shortest bar in the chart: News & Magazines. Media companies have spent so much time and money generating apps, but they just aren't working. Sure, they're growing, but far slower than the rest of the mobile world. 

One mitigating factor is that many social apps rely on links to news and magazine websites. So, at the individual story level, journalists are probably doing better than this chart shows. 

But apps were a chance for media companies to wrest at least partial control of the distribution channel back from Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. At least according to this chart, and general observation of the industry, exactly the opposite is happening. 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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