The evidence is clear: Android users are dumping apps shortly after installing them. Recently, we saw that 77 percent of Android users stop using an app 72 hours after installing it. This and other figures indicate that Android users not only don't stick with apps but that they're also unwilling to pay for them. With well over a million apps available, why do we use so few?
Why so little money?
The question of why Android users pay, on average, less for apps than iOS users is relatively easy to answer. An iPhone is a very expensive device, meaning Apple owners are more likely to have more disposable income. Android users with lower-end devices may have less money to throw around or might not have a credit card, which they need to conduct transactions through the Google Play Store.
Why so little time?
The Google Play Store currently has over 1.5 million apps. This is an enormous number. The market is undeniably over-saturated.
Most people make apps either for fun or for money. If apps are being made for fun, they're unlikely to be great; let's be honest. There are anomalies out there, of course, but an insanely small percentage are going to be worth users investing serious time in.
If they're being made for money, developers are going to be considerably more invested in finding ways to get users hooked. This is done through making users engage with the app immediately and then providing incentives to keep them coming back. These incentives have to be effective, not annoying. So fifty push notifications saying you haven't used the app in a while are unlikely to be a boon to user retention. In fact, I think most users would agree that cloying notifications and emails only really serve as a reminder that they need to uninstall said app.
Another consideration is that, while many users may only use an app a few times in 90 days, it may be that an app is only useful on rare occasions – maybe a currency conversion app or an archive unpacker for ZIP and RAR files.
Mostly, however, it comes down to the simple fact that many apps are not that useful. Most smartphone users spend the majority of their time in a small handful of apps, the ones that they rely on as part of their daily lives, mostly social media apps, like Facebook, and practical tools, like Google Maps.
Apps that people download are usually superfluous, something fun to play around with during a dull patch in the day, and not something they were ever likely to consider using regularly to begin with.
What can be done?
Very little, it seems. Occasionally, an app will come along that outplays even the most popular existing app, but for an app developer to attract and hold users, they need to have created something really special, or at least addictive, but even this addictive quality usually has a limited lifespan. The only apps that people come back to for months or even years are those that allow them access to huge pools of entertainment (YouTube), communication with family and friends (Facebook, WhatsApp) and practical uses (Google Maps, a web browser).
Many users are also unlikely to venture far beyond the Play Store's top-ten lists, making app discovery very difficult. So, although there may be fun, useful or even potentially essential apps out there for a certain user, their chances of finding it are slim. But the study providing the 77 percent figure, also offers a ray of hope. Even though 77 percent of users abandon the app after 72 hours, at least they gave it a go. So if app developers can effectively draw people in, perhaps they'll be more willing to stick around.
Maybe we, the users, can do something to help the situation, though. We shouldn't be afraid to recommend our favorite apps to friends and family, and try to raise the profile of apps that people might not otherwise discover.
Do you think developers can do more to attract and keep user interest? Are apps mostly just not that useful? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.