The number of mobile apps available to users is growing at an exponential rate. With Google Play and Apple’s App store alone hosting over 3.5 million applications, consumers today have an application for almost anything they can come up in their minds. However, a recent report has suggested that despite the large number of downloads, many applications are abandoned by users after a single use.
A report from Localytics, a research firm that bases its finding on its user base of over 37,000 applications, shed some light on app usage trends in recent times. Lets take a look at some of the most salient points of the report.
First off, as the title of the post says, almost 25 percent — 23 percent to be exact — of users “abandon” applications. By abandoning, we mean that 23 out of every 100 users use an application only once before never opening it again. This is actually worse then 2014, when the number of users abandoning applications was limited to 20 out of every 100.
Meanwhile, app retention actually saw an improvement on iOS. The percentage of users opening applications only once fell to 24 percent from 26 percent in 2014. Interestingly, the number of users who return to apps 11 times or more also showed a slight growth and stood at 36 percent — up from 32 percent in 2015.
Meanwhile, the overall trends also indicated a slight improvement and user retention grew up from from 34 percent in 2015 to 38 percent in 2016. However, flipping the coin will let you know that the number of people who use an application less than 11 times was at 62 percent, not a sustainable model according to the Localytics report. Meanwhile, the applications in the middle stage of growth — that is between 15,000 and 50,000 monthly active users — showed the largest lift in retention, and interestingly, abandonment too.
The report attributed this to push notifications, in-app messages, email etc. Obviously, if an app was interacting with you by sending you messages and stuff, you would definitely be more likely to interact with it. I mean i downloaded two different alarms and one of them kept sending me motivational quotes every morning — guess which one i kept around? I f you want to go by figures, these messages are known to improve users retention by upto 46 percent.
However, the overall picture remains dismal for app developers. Applications are basically their products and if users are using them only once — that is certainly something to worry about. And let’s not even go into applications that are monetizing — particularly using subscription. How many apps do you have on your device that you pay for? There you have it.
A large share of the revenue obtained through apps also go to a very select percentage of publishers. As per a study done by Activate, the top 20 app publishers, which represent less than %0.005 of all apps, earn almost 60% of all app store revenue. Whoa!
As a report by Medium puts it,
The app ecosystem has an extremely harsh power law where app adoption and monetization are heavily skewed towards the top few apps. It’s nowhere near 80/20. In fact, it appears to be more like 99% of the value is centralized to the top 0.01%.
Another strange fact is the rate of saturation, which honestly speaking is quite strange. I mean websites have been around for almost 20 years as compared to apps which mainly surfaced and built an economy barely around 6-7 years ago. But the app economy is slowly saturating while the web business is doing as well as it ever did.
Paid promotion has become an unsustainable proposition as well considering that the net cost for an active install increased to $4.14, up from $1.50 in 2014. Well, how else do you discover apps? The home page feature is reserved for those with a relationship to Apple or Google or with a good enough ranking. While the search feature requires you to know the name of the app since a random search based upon what you need will still throw up the top rankings applications associated with that particular term.
Meanwhile, there are changes on the horizon as well. Google is dabbling with instant applications, which will let users stream applications without the need to download them — Basically, how websites work. And considering that how Apple and Google have literally shared out the app economy between them, there is a significant possibility of Apple following suit with something of its own. The company has so far been releasing guides for developers and has been launching app development centers in locations across the world.