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The apps we live with

Source: comScoreSource: comScore
Source: comScore

It’s probably due to analyst-for-hire Ben Thompson’s tender age (34) that in his Stratechery Monday Note he describes any company founded before 2007 as “very old.”

But he’s got a point. All but four of the entries on comScore‘s list of the top 25 mobile apps in the U.S. were created by companies that existed on the Web in the desktop era, before the arrival of the iPhone.

In that respect, Facebook (No. 1), YouTube (No. 2) and the rest are to the smartphone what radio dramas were to early television: Old content repurposed for a new medium.

Thompson calls it the PC Hangover.

“To be clear,” he writes, “I’m not saying these apps — or companies — aren’t mobile friendly; rather, I suspect the manner in which web giants have been able to extend their dominance to mobile devices is a function of the fact most people in the United States first came online when the PC/browser paradigm was dominant.

Things probably look very different, he suggests, in countries where smartphones are most people’s first and primary means of connecting to the Internet.

“A similar list created for the entire world,” he writes, “would almost certainly include several more messaging services, including LINE, WeChat, and WhatsApp.”

“Messaging, he concludes, “is indeed Mobile’s Killer App.”

comScore’s report includes the usual iPhone vs. Android tale of the tape. It shows — not unexpectedly — that Apple’s customers make more money and are more engaged.

But it, too, is U.S.-centric. A worldwide version would almost certainly show a lot more Android user, but they’d also have a lot less disposable income.

Source: comScore



Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.