Mobile analytics company Flurry has published some pretty interesting insights on the growing popularity of apps by category, revealing that ‘photo and video’ is the fastest growing in terms of time spent using them.

Flurry tapped a sample of 8 million mobile users across all application categories, with its analytics tools tracking more than 180,000 iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and HTML5  apps. The chart below shows the fastest growing categories based on where consumers are spending most of their time.

a4 520x397 Photo and video is the fastest growing mobile app category, according to Flurry report

Of course, it’s important to stress here that this is just the fastest growing, social networking and gaming still rank at the top in terms of actual time spent on mobile apps. And it’s probably also worth noting here that the more popular categories are likely to plateau as the room for growth stalls, hence leaving space for other categories to catch up in terms of time spent using them.

It’s also likely that the massive popularity of social networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter itself feeds the uptake of photo and video-sharing apps.

As you can see, the photo and video category has grown by 89%, indicative of the growing use of apps such as Path, Viddy, SocialCam and Instagram.

Interestingly, between July 2011 and March 2012, the number of minutes spent on photo and video apps per user rose by more than two-and-a-half times. The average active user spent 231 minutes perusing photo/video apps in March this year:

b6 520x397 Photo and video is the fastest growing mobile app category, according to Flurry report

Native apps go for the Web’s jugular

However, over and above the popularity of individual categories within mobile, it’s worth looking at how this growth in native apps is impacting on the more traditional Web.

Many more apps – such as Instagram – launch almost entirely with mobile in mind. And Flurry’s latest report shows that not only has video engagement risen from 63 minutes to 231 minutes a month across iOS and Android devices in the 12 months to March 2012, but relative to Google Internet sites, it is gaining ground too.

C 520x427 Photo and video is the fastest growing mobile app category, according to Flurry report

Slightly less video was consumed on the likes of YouTube between December 2011 and March 2012, whilst iOS and Android video consumption caught up to constitute more than half. What was seemingly a huge gulf in December last year, has been turned around in only four months.

So…are mobile video apps gobbling up Web-based sites such as YouTube?

“While it cannot be concluded that mobile video apps are cannibalizing YouTube, the shift in time spent between these two platforms appears to be a signal of disruption,” says Peter Farago, Vice President Marketing at Flurry. “Think of it this way: With every mobile video you share of friends, family, vacations, parties and weddings, you are likely loading another bullet in the chamber for Web 3.0. For YouTube, it appears they need to run, outrun your gun.”