March 26, 2015

Smartphone Ownership in Canada Jumps 24 Percent; App Market is Oversaturated, According to New Study from WPP’s Catalyst and GroupM Next

Other Findings Include Preference for Mobile Web Versus Apps and Decline in “On-the-Go” Smartphone Use

TORONTO (March 26, 2015) – The mobile landscape in Canada is rapidly evolving with a 24 percent increase in smartphone ownership, search marketing agency Catalyst, in conjunction with GroupM Next, announced today. The new study also found a decrease in the average number of apps on users’ smartphones with Canadians increasingly preferring the mobile Web over apps to accomplish most of their activities.  At home smartphone usage increased for virtually all activities while on-the-go use declined.

Battery life and data limits remain the biggest frustrations with smartphones, likely contributing to the at home versus on-the-go usage trend. If battery technology improves, and telecommunications companies increase their data caps, this trend may reverse.

Other key findings in the report include:

Market penetration – From 2014 to 2015, the share of Canadian smartphone owners increased from 55 to 68 percent.  Growth was strongest in the 25-34 and 45-54 age ranges.

Apps decline – Catalyst Canada found the number of apps on users’ smartphones declined from an average of 26 to an average of 19 over the past year. Average monthly app downloads decreased by 53 percent and app uninstalls increased by 29 percent.  Despite the ubiquity of mobile applications, Canadians’ app usage is trending down for most activities, while mobile web usage is trending up.  Notable exceptions to this rule included banking and emailing.

At-home usage rises; on-the-go declines – At home smartphone usage increased for 20 out of 21 surveyed activities.  On-the-go use declined for the majority of activities.

Millennials – The 18-24 age group continues to possess the greatest number of apps, with a reported average of 8.88 apps used in a particular month.  Millennials are also the heaviest at-home smartphone users.

“Mobile technology has completely permeated the lives of Canadians,” said Jeff Lancaster, CEO, Catalyst Canada. “Far from being an occasional touchpoint for Internet access and communication on the go, smartphones have become a key part of the fabric of day-to-day life.  For brands, one of the key takeaways is the extreme competitiveness of the app space with Canadians increasingly limiting their app usage to just a handful of core apps.  While Millennials saw their overall share of the smartphone user market fall, they remain the heaviest users both of apps and across the mobile Web.”

In creating today’s report, Catalyst and GroupM Next surveyed just over 1,100 English and French-speaking smartphone owners in Canada. The complete study can be found online at:


With Canadian offices in Toronto and Montreal, Catalyst ( is the largest enterprise-focused provider of search marketing services in Canada, providing paid search marketing, search engine optimization, social media buying, content marketing and local search optimization. With additional offices in Boston, New York, Chicago and Seattle, our clients span B2B and B2C verticals and industries, and include many of the world’s top advertisers.


GroupM is the leading global media investment management operation. It serves as the parent company to WPP media agencies including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare.  Our primary purpose is to maximize the performance of WPP’s media communications agencies on behalf of our clients, our stakeholders and our people by operating as a parent and collaborator in performance-enhancing activities such as trading, content creation, sports, digital, finance, proprietary tool development and other business-critical capabilities. The agencies that comprise GroupM are all global operations in their own right with leading market positions. The focus of GroupM is the intelligent application of physical and intellectual scale to benefit trading, innovation, and new communication services, to bring competitive advantage to our clients and our companies.


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