Apps mean the mobile web is turning unmeasurable

ic_launder_market_128x128An interesting “claim” landed in my in-box this morning. Quoting stats from Comscore, mobile social network Flirtomatic is seeing twice as many page views per user than any other mobile internet site accessed on smartphones in the US. The British company then goes on to boast that this puts Flirtomatic ahead of both Twitter and Facebook. The ‘dating’ site scored 721 pages per user per month compared with Twitter at 278 and Facebook at 211. Sounds impressive right?

Don’t just take their word for it though, here’s a quote from Comscore’s report:

“Established social networks can learn from their mobile cousins… Not only is Flirtomatic the top social networking site for engagement but it’s the top site for average pages views across all mobile internet sites in the US.”

Cue high fives all round back at Flirtomatic’s London office.

Not so fast.

Comscore’s stats only refer to browser usage on smartphones, and as such don’t cover accessing Twitter or Facebook via a dedicated app. Who accesses Twitter on their smartphone through a web browser? I certainly don’t and nor does anybody else I know of. Just witness the number of Twitter apps in Apple’s App Store. Or on Android or Nokia’s Symbian or any of the other smartphone platforms.

The same is, of course, true for Facebook. And if we’re measuring smartphone usage only, the results are likely to be even more skewed in favor of mobile apps.

In other words, the rise of the app store renders pages views a meaningless metric on the mobile web.

(Unsurprisingly, Flirtomatic doesn’t offer any kind of mobile app and instead pushes all of its users to a WAP-based browser offering.)

Moving forward, the situation with regards to ‘page views’ on the mobile web is destined to become even more hazy. Smartphone take up is on the increase as ‘free’ operating systems such as Android and Symbian combined with commodity hardware keeps pushing prices down. While so-called dumb phones are getting smarter too. Native Twitter and Facebook clients have already begun appearing on low cost feature phones, such as the latest devices from INQ.