iPhone app usage declining rapidly after first downloads

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The vast majority of apps downloaded from the App Store are in use by less than 5% of users after one month has passed since the download, according to an analytics firm that is also shedding light on other aspects of the business.



The data was collected from more than 30 million app downloads Pinch Media has been tracking as part of its analytics services. Included in chief executive Greg Yardley's presentation (embedded below) at the New York iPhone Developers Meetup were several revealing conclusions about how users interact with their downloaded apps.



Just 20% of users even return to run a free application again the day after it's downloaded. As time goes on, that decline continues, eventually settling below five percent at the one month elapsed mark and nearing zero after three months.



Paid applications showed a similar decrease, indicating that developers have just a short time to capture the user's attention.



Yardley also took on a question developers often face: whether to charge for an app or use a free, ad-supported model. He noted that paid apps are used slightly more than free ones and for slightly longer periods. In his findings, very few apps can succeed with ad support. The number of views just isn't there.



Assuming free apps are run a dozen times by each user, and that those free apps are run about 6.6 times more often in total than paid apps, Yardley showed that "the typical application would have to bombard its users with ads to beat the money it'd make from paid sales."







Specifically, the average free app would need to earn $8.75 CPM (an advertising term that means cost per thousand) in order to equal revenues that paid apps receive on average, but the market is currently standing in a range of 50 cents to two dollars CPM. Thus, Yardley concludes, only a few high-performing applications, representing less than 5% of the market, can maximize earnings with advertising.



"In other words, unless there's something inherent about the app that screams free, sell it," he said.







Category matters, too: games are used for longer periods than any other genre. Pinch Media found the long-term audience for the average app is just 1% of the total number of downloads. Sports apps retain users a little better over the short term, and entertainment offerings retain best over the long term.



Finally, the company estimates a free app needs 5,000 downloads in a 24-hour period to make the App Store's Top 100 list or 20,000 in the same period to place on the Top 25. Compared to six months ago, when there were fewer competitors, the threshold needed for the Top 25 has doubled. Meanwhile, the Top 100 minimum barrier for entry has increased by a whopping five times.







Pinch Media's analytics have also helped identify some of Apple's next-generation iPhone prototypes, which have represented themselves as "iPhone 2,1" in website visit logs.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    Interesting. We see reports of applications developers making a lot of quick money with often simple (and sometimes ridiculous) applications, but apparently this is just a 'flash-in-the-pan' sort of thing. If 95+% of applications aren't even used after a few months, then it doesn't bode well for the whole application market long-term. Eventually people will realize that, after having bought a few apps and not really using them, they only need the bundled Apple applications.



    It appears that only the HOPE of usefulness or entertainment gets people to buy these apps, but then they realize they're not all that useful or entertaining after all. Just like people thought PDA's would be super useful, and then didn't use them because their cell phone had all they needed anyway -- just the basics.



    So if you want to make a bundle on a quick app, better do it quickly.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    ahmlcoahmlco Posts: 432member
    To me it simply boils down to two things:



    1) Many free apps are downloaded just to try them out, and discarded after the fact.



    2) Many "novelty" apps like iBeer or iFart are only fun the first few times they're used. After that the novelty quickly vanishes.



    Which brings us to a corollary: If you want to create longer-lasting applications, then make them useful. Very, very useful.



    I use applications like Stanza, Now Playing, OmniFocus, Shazam, and Shopper almost daily because they fulfil a need and because they have depth.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post


    To me it simply boils down to two things:



    1) Many free apps are downloaded just to try them out, and discarded after the fact.



    2) Many "novelty" apps like iBeer or iFart are only fun the first few times they're used. After that the novelty quickly vanishes.



    Which brings us to a corollary: If you want to create longer-lasting applications, then make them useful. Very, very useful.



    I use applications like Stanza, Now Playing, OmniFocus, Shazam, and Shopper almost daily because they fulfil a need and because they have depth.



    Not surprised. Read a report that when Apple cane out with the new pinch features on the late MacBook pro, it stated more than 80% do not use the features after a few weeks.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    I only have apps that I use on a regular basis:mbox mail, RSS, Beejive ect...the free crapones I try and then delete.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    I shouldn't be surprised that every fracking little thing I do on every single electronic device I own is being tracked, recorded, monitored and analyzed so that someone can figure out how to make more money, but it just really irks me that someone's been secretly monitoring my application usage on my iPhone and reporting data back to some mothership.



    How does the datastream flow? I'd like to cut it off.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    So downloaded iPhone apps lose interest after the first month...



    So did my digital camera...



    So did my camcorder...



    So did my cd's...



    So did my vcr movie tapes before I got a DVD player...



    So did my dvd movies...



    So did my guitar...



    So did my coin collection...



    So did my...



    I'm sure I can think of some more, but isn't it nice to know that you have them, when you need it? \
  • Reply 7 of 38
    This:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "In other words, unless there's something inherent about the app that screams free, sell it," he said.



    Is a very misleading conclusion.



    He's referring to "free" apps that are not actually free but make money (or attempt to) through advertising. He's not actually referring to "Free Apps."



    Most free apps in my experience are apps that are free because they are just for fun, or because no one would pay for them anyway, and most don't make the mistake of ruining the experience with advertisements.



    I see this as a boon, in that if they are turned into paid apps, at least I won't have to deal with all that dreck that advertises itself as a free app, only to connect to some monetised website or show advertisements for the company or their other software, or the "full" version or some other such bull.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post


    So downloaded iPhone apps lose interest after the first month...



    So did my digital camera...



    So did my camcorder...



    So did my cd's...



    So did my vcr movie tapes before I got a DVD player...



    So did my dvd movies...



    So did my guitar...



    So did my coin collection...



    So did my...



    I'm sure I can think of some more, but isn't it nice to know that you have them, when you need it? \



    Yeah this whole article could almost be summed up by ... Duh!
  • Reply 9 of 38
    ivladivlad Posts: 735member
    I think App store needs to have its own software hub, not just iTunes.



    More like a social networking where people can see and search what's really good and what's not so good. When its in iTunes, its so hard to really find that. What apple needs is an iStore where they can sell iPhone, iPod and MAC applications.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    blah64blah64 Posts: 859member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DistortedLoop View Post


    I shouldn't be surprised that every fracking little thing I do on every single electronic device I own is being tracked, recorded, monitored and analyzed so that someone can figure out how to make more money, but it just really irks me that someone's been secretly monitoring my application usage on my iPhone and reporting data back to some mothership.



    How does the datastream flow? I'd like to cut it off.



    No kidding. Does anyone know anything about this?



    I'm waiting for a Little Snitch for iPhone / iPodTouch before even buying one. Hey Objective Development (obdev.com), how about it??
  • Reply 11 of 38
    Like others here have stated, not that surprising. You generally can't use a third party app (and a number of the first party apps) without looking at the device. That requires a level of attention that the built-in iPod app and phone app do not. Games no doubt have the best staying power, but when I finish a game on my home console, it either becomes part of my collection or traded in for a new one.



    We also have to factor in that many iPhone owners are like Wii owners, i.e., "casual" users. Fortunately Apple does a better job of letting people know the App Store actually exists (unlike Nintendo and their WiiWare store, though their Virtual Console store is apparently pretty popular; the Wii's paltry 512MB of internal memory and inability to load games off SD cards doesn't help either).
  • Reply 12 of 38
    I think these statistics are generated by the ad-supported applications - when you launch the program, it loads the ads from an adserver; they just kept track of which apps were requesting ads from a particular phone. AFAIK, there isn't some snooper app on the iPhone that radios your application usage back to AAPL.



    That said, I admit that I only use a small number of apps on a regular basis - Shazam, Pandora, DistantSuns, Gasbuddy. THe IGN reviews app, eBay, and SportsTap are in the second tier. I have a bunch of games that only my kids play!
  • Reply 13 of 38
    Where do they get their stats? I use free apps quite often on my iPhone.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,163moderator
    A lot of the apps are junk. The ones that are good, for example some of the games, you can finish them in about a week tops because they are just too shallow.



    I don't suppose you can expect mobile apps to be anything but disposable - on that platform, software packages are like ringtones.



    I blame Apple's rating system for this partly because there's no way to browse apps by rating so how can new buyers see what apps are good? This means they get apps that they discover are bad and delete or don't use them.



    As time goes on, I hope we'll see some better quality software. It's only been 8 months or so since the app store went up so it's still a fairly new thing relative to development schedules.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    How the fsck are 500,000 applications all going to be sufficiently useful to warrant continued usage over time?



    "Truly Useful" applications priced over $5 tend to have very limited appeal based on people's history with the ...less useful applications. I'm looking at you damn HP-1x calculators for $20 each!
  • Reply 16 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    Yeah this whole article could almost be summed up by ... Duh!



    NO SH!T - Who would have known!!



    Yep, what pisses me off is I took the time to read this drivel.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    Anyone who is currently developing apps for the iPhone/iPod touch already knows this.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blah64 View Post


    No kidding. Does anyone know anything about this?



    I'm waiting for a Little Snitch for iPhone / iPodTouch before even buying one. Hey Objective Development (obdev.com), how about it??



    Is it from the Genius (ha!) recommender system? If that ever wasn't a veiled invasion of privacy- then what is? Never used it - never will. God only knows what it's sending to Apple.

    Maybe somebody hacked the Genius?
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hillstones View Post


    Where do they get their stats? I use free apps quite often on my iPhone.



    Ever think they just made them up.... where is the proof, why is it we willing to believe every thing we read? Maybe the competition has something to do with this?



    Has anyone or do you know anyone who have been foreclosed on??
  • Reply 20 of 38
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    A lot of the apps are junk. The ones that are good, for example some of the games, you can finish them in about a week tops because they are just too shallow.



    I don't suppose you can expect mobile apps to be anything but disposable - on that platform, software packages are like ringtones.



    I blame Apple's rating system for this partly because there's no way to browse apps by rating so how can new buyers see what apps are good? This means they get apps that they discover are bad and delete or don't use them.



    As time goes on, I hope we'll see some better quality software. It's only been 8 months or so since the app store went up so it's still a fairly new thing relative to development schedules.



    Why exactly is there so much junk allowed? Apple had such an arduous screening process in order to qualify- obviously none of it geared towards taste.
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