The latest Flurry report has an interesting insight for app developers. Over the last few years, as apps have gained more and more attention and users, discovery has been one of the biggest issues developers face: Most devs spend a lot of their time post-release just trying to tell as many people as possible about their app, so they can actually find it in the store and buy it. But Flurry now says that because of the growing amount of tools out there for app discovery, the biggest problem faced by apps isn't getting found anymore. It's trying to get customers to stick around.
As you can see above, app user retention drops off sharply after the first month of usage, and only gets worse from there. Based on my own experience, I can agree with this assessment -- while I probably use more apps than the average consumer, even my favorite apps really only hold my attention for a few weeks at the most before I find something else I really like and move on. That's not a judgment on app quality -- there are just so many apps out there and apps always coming out and dropping in price and going free that there's always something shinier to move on to, no matter how great the app is.
Especially with models like freemium, app retention becomes more and more important for developers. Presumably, then, the next tools developers need should not only work towards discovery (things like Game Center and OpenFeint have helped immensely with this kind of thing), but also should be aimed towards keeping users interested in the apps they have. The new Notification Center may help with something like that, or maybe a "Recently Used" folder on your iOS device, that pushes you back to apps you've used lately. It's fascinating to see that as the app ecosystem grows and ages, developers are facing new and different problems reaching users.