The mobile app impact rankings: Where apps meet network, battery and data plan

Image of Josee LoudiadisAt Mobile World Congress this year,  Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg urged mobile operators to zero-rate Facebook in an effort to bring the Internet to the next 2 billion users while simultaneously increase operator profits.  Analytics Beat reported last year that Facebook increased overall signaling load by 5-10% overnight with a new software release.  Understandably, operators are reluctant not to charge for   an app that could prove unsustainably costly in a heartbeat. But high signaling is also directly linked to battery drain of the consumer devices. With revenues from mobile increasingly important to its growth, Facebook was doubly incented to resolve this spike. Five months later a new Android version was released that went beyond reversing the signaling effect - it even improved on it.  But Facebook could not optimize without knowing the predicament it caused to service providers. It also could not optimize its app without having data helping it pinpointing the cause of the increase. Having visibility of the apps’ impact on mobile networks is key to reducing the cost of delivery and understanding apps that could packaged to the benefits of all parties. 

Daily signaling share trends for Facebook


Another blind spot is that of the consumer. WhatsApp announced it will introduce voice capability in the second quarter of this year, one that will “use the least amount of bandwidth”. Could anyone answer how much bandwidth and battery their current WhatApp app consumes for texting? Maybe. But they sure don’t know how much it consumes compared to competing apps like Yahoo!® Messenger, or Kik.  So, how will they know whether WhatsApp uses the least amount of data and be less costly than Skype™, Tango or their current voice plan?  

Application cost ranking (chart)Spoiler Alert: On average, WhatsApp has the higher overall cost appearing at #6 in the rankings, followed by Yahoo!® Messenger and Kik at #10 and #17.  WhatsApp is heaviest in data volume ranking at #14, compared to #28 and #30 for Yahoo!® Messenger and Kik.  WhatsApp does have, however, a lower battery drain profile: it ranks #10, compared to #3 and #8 for Yahoo!® Messenger and Kik, respectively. Wonder what adding voice support to WhatsApp will do to your battery and data plan? Stay tuned. We will be watching.

The Mobile App Rankings report will equip the market with information that will spur collaboration between operators and app developers for app optimization and packaging. Service providers will find out what apps impacts their network the most now and which apps are on the Watch List (apps that have the potential to impact it if their popularity grows). It will also enlighten consumers about the average cost of popular apps on data plan and battery life.

Our Analytics Beat studies examine a representative cross-section of mobile data customers using the 9900 Wireless Network Guardian and are made possible by the voluntary participation of our customers. Collectively, these customers provide mobile service to millions of subscribers worldwide.

Follow Josee on Twitter @joseeloudiadis

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