The Grandma Definition

Everyone has to have a “Grandma Definition”:  The way you explain what either you, or your company, do for a living.  This is particularly important for those of us whose jobs are taken up by some combination of email, conference calls, and various MS Office products.  One of the Grandma Definitions I’ve used for Symphony Advanced Media is “capturing what people are doing while they watch TV.”  Earlier blogs and commentary by my colleagues have described how mobiletaskers use social media, games, and texting apps while watching TV.  This data started me thinking: Are there apps that are primarily used in front of the TV?  And are there apps that are primarily used away from the TV?

Logic suggests this is probably true.  Certain apps, like mapping and travel apps, are probably used away from the TV, and conversely social media apps such as facebook and twitter are probably used at least some of the time as a main-screen complement.

So I decided to take a look at our data to see if my hypothesis was correct.  For the most recent full week I looked at two numbers:

1)      The percentage of total usage time concurrent:  This represents the percentage of total minutes an app was used, across the panel, while watching TV.

2)      The percentage of total usage time non-concurrent:  The converse of number 1.  This represents the percentage of time an app was used while away from a TV.

I found some intuitive, and some not-so-intuitive, results.  First, of the top 300 apps in terms of popularity, 224 had 10% or less usage in front of the TV.

So, we see a pattern that makes sense: Apps used out of the home, or that involve talking to the phone, or the phone talking to you, are done away from the TV.  Looking at some of the most popular apps, we see a bit more variation; Social media apps are still primarily used away from the TV, but at least 10% of total usage is concurrent with TV.

We see a more interesting pattern when we look at apps that have a high percentage of usage time in front of the TV.  Looking at the list, we see what appear to be TV avoidance apps.

One hypothesis is that individuals using these apps are in the room while the TV is on, but they’re not actively watching.  Perhaps a friend or family member has the remote control?  In my next blog post we’ll explore mobile distractions more deeply, and take a look at who these people are who are using potentially distracting mobile applications…and what they’re watching.