Nielsen: Users embracing smartphone apps while ditching traditional web services

'Tis the season for year-end lists and summaries galore, and Nielsen is no exception to this rule. The company has just released its list of the top 10 web brands, online video brands and smartphone apps, and its findings reveal a growing trend that may not come as a surprise to anyone: More people are using smartphones, and they're using them to access the most popular services out there, instead of their web-based counterparts. In these aforementioned lists, Nielsen also discusses how each brand has changed year-over-year; web brands have all decreased, online video brands are relatively flat and smartphone apps are skyrocketing in overall usage.

Let's take a look at a few services in particular. Google was the top web brand for 2013, yet it saw a decrease in unique visitors by 6 percent from last year (and YouTube dropped by 14 percent). That said, these two brands represented five of the top 10 smartphone apps, with growth ranging from 14 percent to as high as 29 percent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Facebook experienced a very similar trend, with a 16 percent decrease in web traffic versus a 27 percent increase in its smartphone app numbers, making it the most-used service of the year. In addition, social networks like Instagram and Twitter grew by leaps and bounds, earning each of them a spot among the top 10 apps; Instagram, in particular, was the fastest growing app on the list. (Also, here's a shameless plug for our parent company as the seventh most-popular web brand.)

Finally, Nielsen also reported that nearly two-thirds of US phone subscribers -- 65 percent, to be specific -- are now using smartphones instead of featurephones, which is a solid jump up from 56 percent at the end of 2012. Of those subscribers, 52 percent are now using Android devices, while 41 percent use iOS and 7 percent use other platforms (BlackBerry is at 3 percent, while Windows Phone is at 2 percent). Head below the break to see all of the fine details for yourself.