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IR Apps Are on the Rise, but How Are They Used?

IR Apps Are on the Rise, but How Are They Used?

Within the past several weeks, Zion Oil & Gas, PPL Corp., and Philip Morris all touted the arrival of their investor relations apps. And over the past year, the list of companies unveiling IR apps was very long indeed, including Duke Energy, SANOFI, United Airlines, Apache Corp., Cardno Limited, and AirAsia.

An innovation has definitely reached a tipping point when it’s recognized as its own category in an awards contest. “Best investor relations mobile application” now merits its own distinct award in the Web Marketing Association’s annual contest (and the 2013 winner was EADS Investors Financial App).

A Typical User?

While an IR app is a sure sign that a company “gets” social media, especially as a tool for communicating with investors, not all IROs have a firm grasp on how investors are using these apps.

No wonder. According to comScore’s September 25, 2014 publication of U.S. Mobile App Report, usage has grown dramatically over the past year and so this population is truly a moving target. The report finds that mobile app usage has bagged top honors for the majority of digital media time spent overall – at 52 percent. And while the report looks at app usage in general – and not usage of IR apps, in particular – many of the results should be eye-opening for IROs wading into this arena for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, the comScore report found that millennials (25-34 year olds) spend the most time on mobile apps, but what’s really noteworthy is the sheer number of hours a month they’re spending: nearly 75. Following closely on their heels is the 18-to-24 year-old set in which individuals spend over 73 hours per month on mobile apps.

Another interesting finding is that app usage occurs very regularly. According to comScore, 57 percent of smart-phone users access apps every day of the month, while almost 80 percent of smart-phone users access apps at least 26 days a month. “The smartphone,” writes comScore, “has become the on-the-go consumer’s personal assistant that travels everywhere they go and helps with anything they might need.”

Finally, the report also examined which devices are most popular with users – a pressing concern for IROs considering launching an app but unsure whether to design that app for the iPhone, the Android, or both.

According to comScore, Android’s smart-phone operating system has 83.8 million U.S. subscribers, roughly 16.4 million more users than Apple’s iOS platform.

That said, the demographics of both groups may convince IROs that neither can be blithely ignored. The median iPhone app user earns $85,000 per year, relative to $61,000 for the median Android phone user. In addition, iPhone users tend to skew younger; 43 percent of iPhone users are within the 18-to-34 year-old age range, while 39 percent of Android users fall into this same demographic.

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