Which Apps Are Built to Last?

 In Mobile Apps & Games

In a technologically driven society flooded with messages and promises of “the next best thing,” it can be challenging to determine what motivates a consumer to take a chance on a new, relatively unknown app. A consumer might download something new because they have an immediate need for a specific feature – or even because they’re simply drawn to the icon or something interesting pops up in the app store’s featured list of apps when exploring. But, more often than not, there’s one key driver in getting people to try a new app: word of mouth.

Getting a consumer to try an app is only half the battle. Many developers find themselves tracking the consumer journey to test how “sticky” their app is. Does the user return to the app after it’s downloaded and tested once? Will they actively use it, and if so, at which point in the app journey are they spending most of their time? How to maximize the life-time value of the app user?

It’s not always a “one-size-fits-all” solution, but these stats can help identify which apps are built to outlive the rest – and why.

Who Downloads (and Keeps) More Apps – Apple or Android Users?

The data in Figure 1 (below) shows that in Q1 2015, Android users downloaded more apps than iOS users. It also demonstrates that they uninstalled their apps at a higher rate, deleting nearly 89 percent of downloaded apps (on the aggregate level). This means that on average only 1 out of 10 apps gets accumulated into the device for the long-term. Apple users are no strangers to this pattern either, removing a little more than 82 percent of their downloaded apps – thereby iOS devices accumulate relatively speaking apps on a higher rate than Android devices.

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The Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play both grow rapidly each day, and with so many new apps there’s a slim chance most users will become aware of all the new app offerings. So, what kind of apps are being tried typically by US consumers? Chart 2 below reveals that Android users are more open to trying new social media apps than iOS users; Android users downloaded an average of 1.4 social apps compared to iOS at 0.44 social apps during Q1 2015.

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The lower ratio of de-installations to downloads among iOS users might indicate they tend to keep more apps than Android users. The data reveals that social networking apps are very popular among Android users, while health and fitness, productivity, weather, and medical apps are more popular among iOS users. Although this might appear to indicate iOS and Android users are very different, both users download games and kid-friendly apps more than any other categories of apps.

What Makes Certain Apps So Popular?

Games are by far the most popular category of downloaded apps, with 2.67 downloads per Android user in Q1 2015, (1.22 downloads more than any other category). They are also the apps that have the highest de-installation rate, which suggests many users who download games either beat or lose interest in their installed games, and delete them. Another reason could be because users are constantly downloading the latest gaming apps, and therefore, maintaining a high download rate. Details of this are shown in Figure 2 (above).

In Q1 2015, the average number of downloads in nearly every app category were dominated by Android users. The only category where iOS app downloads exceeded Android was Productivity apps (and only by a mere .22 downloads).

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It’s easy to wonder if there is a science behind which apps wind up on everyone’s phone, and which apps will flop before gaining any real momentum in the market. In fact, data shows that users tend to update Social Networking and Lifestyle apps more often than any other application. One reason could be due to people constantly interacting through apps, and thus needing to update them in order to maintain that social connection. Medical apps have a 40 percent retention rate – higher than all other app categories – while Weather and Game apps have the lowest retention rate, both falling below 10 percent. Figure 3 (above) highlights the frequency at which users update their apps as well as installation retention.

So Which Apps Will Last in the Market?

Based on the data, we can conclude consumers have plenty of options when it comes to their choice of apps: from Entertainment and Weather to Utilities and Sports, there is something for everybody. It’s clear that among the different apps, platforms, and demographics, all users tend to download highly interactive apps, in categories such as gaming, social networking, or shopping. Users might be rapidly downloading apps, but most aren’t keeping them around long-term. The reality is that the app market is very stocked with apps destined for a short shelf life. Keeping these trends in mind will help publishers and developers build many new apps with a long-term shelf life to ensure their apps survive.

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