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Navigation app usage spiked 104pc during Superstorm Sandy: study

Utility-based applications took center stage in how mobile users accessed content during Superstorm Sandy, according to a new study from Velti.

In addition to navigation apps, finance, news and photography apps also were within consumers? reach during the storm. Velti?s new ?Data spotlight: Hurricane Sandy? report takes a look at how Superstorm Sandy affected both Wi-Fi networks and carriers.

?The main takeaway here is that carriers were able to provide a lifeline for consumers during the storm,? said Krishna Subramanian, chief marketing officer at Velti, San Francisco.

?We?re increasingly living in a mobile world and content consumption is shifting accordingly,? he said. ?When Wi-Fi connections to devices like laptops were taken away, consumers relied heavily on their mobile, carrier-supported devices. Understanding which carrier networks are the most prepared for disasters, how people consume mobile content during a natural disaster, and how power grid disruptions affect Wi-Fi networks can help people and cities be more equipped for future storms.?

Mobile nature
Velti looked at mobile impressions during the storm from Oct. 26 ? 31 compared to impressions the week during Oct. 19 ? 24. The study is from the Mobclix Exchange, which includes more than 33,500 apps and 45 demand sources.

In addition to navigation apps, finance app usage increased 74 percent week-over-week in the study.

Photography app usage increased by 61 percent, pointing to the growth in consumers sharing photos with friends and family over apps such as Instagram and Facebook.

Consumers accessing news content via an app saw an uptick of 52 percent and travel content increased 48 percent. Music app usage grew by 44 percent.

Interestingly, both sports and weather-related content decreased in usage week-over-week. Impressions from weather apps were down 66 percent, and sports apps were down three percent.

Carrier impact
All major carriers in the United States experienced problems due to Superstorm Sandy.

Velti?s stats on the carrier impact measured impressions on Oct. 29 when the storm hit New York compared to Oct. 28.

Day-over-day T-Mobile lost a whopping 51 percent of its impressions as a result of the storm.

AT&T lost 31 percent of its impressions in the two-day period. Similarly, impressions from Metro PCS were down 34 percent.

Impressions from Sprint were down 22 percent, and Verizon only lost seven percent of impressions.

Because of the storm?s low impact on Verizon, the carrier grabbed three percent of impressions away from AT&T and one percent of Sprint?s impressions of Velti?s carrier index from September to October.

Due to power outages, Wi-Fi volume fell significantly during Superstorm Sandy. Therefore, carriers boosted their impressions to 20 percent compared to an average of 10 percent.

Mobile landscape
The Velti report also looked at the company?s monthly indexes from September to October.

IOS continues to lead with 63 percent of impressions with Android generating 37 percent.

The No. 1 device on the Mobclix Exchange from Sept. 1 ? Oct. 21 was the iPhone, followed by the iPod touch and iPad devices.

Both Samsung?s Galaxy SII and Galaxy SIII claimed less than four percent of impressions across both months.

?Brands are already keen on connecting with their users during holidays, sales and promotions, but difficult times also create a vast opportunity for marketers to reach out, engage and increase loyalty with their consumers like never before,? Mr. Subramanian said.

?Events like this create opportunities for carriers and brands to connect with their customers and serve as a resource providing them with important information, such as email updates and texts alerts during the storm,? he said.

?By serving as a resource, customer loyalty can experience a significant spike. After all, mobile marketing is about creating a relationship with your users on their most used device and despite the tragedy around them, most consumers were still attached to their mobile devices, and in many cases it was the only opportunity to engage with them.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York