Mobile App Users Are Both Fickle And Loyal: Study

A study released by Massachusetts-based application analytics firm Localytics today confirms my suspicion that we both love — and are quickly bored by — our mobile applications. And, perhaps, that studies will confirm just about anything.

In part 1 of its study, Localytics analyzed thousands of Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 apps. Using its realtime app analytics service, they found that, while most smartphone users are willing to try new apps (as evidenced by the 10 billion downloads from the iTunes store), 26 percent of the time they download an app, use it once, never to use it again.

With 400,000 iPhone/iPad apps and 200,000 Android apps and the total number of smartphone users growing to 61.5 million in the fourth quarter, the appification of our mobile experience continues at a breakneck pace. And, as a result, it seems that many are hitting what fellow TechCruncher MG Siegler described as the “app wall”.

On the flip side of the coin, in part 2 of the study that was released today, Localytics found that 26 percent of app users become loyal, repeat customers, using a new application more than 10 times. Yup, the exact same percentage as the number of quitters. And many of those loyal users then go on to use the application hundreds of times.

While high download numbers always feel great to app developers, they can be misleading. If customers abandon an app after a single use, those high download numbers are really part of a high churn rate. Measuring user engagement, then, seems equally — if not more — important, especially as the number of mobile apps continues to grow exponentially.

What’s more, loyalty is precious, so encouraging user retention and getting users to return more than once has become (or should become) the top priority for developers. Many try to encourage repeat visits by using in-app purchases, subscriptions that deliver new content, notifications and updates. These methods are especially important considering how many developers make their money from in-app purchases and mobile advertising.

So, is the glass 26 percent empty, or 26 percent full? The good news is that it seems that there are as many potential loyal customers for app developers as there are those that are fickle. And here’s to developers finding them, wherever they may be.