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New study has surprising data on how we interact with apps

Mel Martin

Localytics, a firm that tracks statistics about app usage, has released a study today that is of interest to users and app creators. The data tracks how people react to new apps, and tries to predict which apps will attract users and which won't.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • If you buy or download a new app there's a 60% chance that if you don't come back to the app within seven days, you will never return.
  • For social and entertainment apps, data shows that if users don't try the app again within 12 hours of their first launch, there is greater than a 50% chance they will never open it again.
  • News apps have some of the longest intervals between their first and second app launches -– almost 24 hours. If users don't launch a news app again for up to seven days after their first use, there is still a 59% chance they will return later.
  • The median health app user returns to the app for the second time after almost 1.5 hours, yet they have a long tail of late-returning users.
  • The median user returns within just under six hours of their first app usage.

There are some interesting lessons in the data. It suggests that push messages can keep a user engaged, but too many drives them away. Targeted, rather than broadly based messages are likely the best way to go. And a first impression is really, really important.

In my own app experience, I do find that I try a lot of apps and never return, often erasing them right after I downloaded them. Those apps are usually ones I didn't pay for.

Localytics tracks more than 1.5 billion devices, 25,000 apps and 5,000 customers. The firm processes 50 billion data points monthly. For this report, they examined new iOS app users in November 2013 and their usage through the end of February 2014.

There are a lot of apps just sitting on my iPhone and iPad that it would not bother me to delete. It might be time to cull them. Do the findings in the story track with your experience? Feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

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