iPhone, iPad Apps Have 52 Percent Better Retention Than Android

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-06-27 Print this article Print

iPhone and iPad owners are more likely to be aggressive users of an app, as well as to know at first pass if an app is for them. Across all platforms, says Localytics, app retention rates are increasing.

iPhone and iPad apps have a 52 percent higher retention rate than Android apps, analytics company Localytics reported in a June 26 blog post. While 35 percent of iPhone and iPad apps were launched more than 10 times over the last year, the same held true for only 23 percent of Android apps, the company found.

Judging by a graph of iOS and Android app use created by Localytics, which provides analytics information for more than 300 million devices running either iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and HTML5 apps, people tend to either use an app once and decide it€™s not for them, or else they use it constantly. iPhone and iPad users seem to also determine more quickly whether an app is for them. 

Twenty-four percent of Android apps were used once, compared with 21 percent of iPhone and iPad apps. While only 12 percent of the Apple users gave an app a second try, 17 percent of Android users did.

It€™s rare, on all platforms, for an app to be used five, six or seven times€”people either love an app or they don€™t. When it came to opening an app seven or eight times over a year, the two platforms score identically, with 3 percent of users giving the app that many tries before abandoning it.

Localytics takes credit for promoting a shift in the industry, from focusing on customer downloads to customer retention, and says that mobile app retention is improving. While in 2010 the number of overall apps opened once was 26 percent, in 2011 that fell to 22 percent. More importantly, the number of apps being used more than 10 times rose from 26 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2011€”a 19 percent improvement.

The firm also points to 2012 data from the Pew Center€™s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found 29 percent of news app users launched their app more than 10 times per month€”which is particularly notable, given that fewer than 10 percent of people who visit mobile Internet news sites did so more than 10 times per month.

€œOne of the key takeaways of these studies is that a publisher€™s app and [mobile] Web users are very different,€ writes Localytics. €œWebsites attract many casual users who arrive from search, social or referring links. App users more purposefully install an app and return directly to it, self-selecting themselves as more qualified and more valuable customers.€

Understandably, then, developers who can create attractive, addictive apps are critical to the success of the various platforms. In a blog post earlier this month, Flurry, another analytics firm, described the developer community€™s embrace of one platform over the other as largely indicative of the platform€™s ability to succeed.

The outcome of Apple€™s Worldwide Developer Conference and Google€™s I/O event, beginning June 27, Flurry added, €œcan largely impact the fate of some of the most prolific, innovative forces in the world€™s economy today. Combined, Apple and Google have a market cap of approximately three quarters of a trillion dollars.€

Localytics believes both Apple and Google are building better apps than before, which partly explains the improved retention of apps, and that users, gaining experience, are also making more informed and discerning download decisions.

The iPhone€™s greater retention rate, Localytics points out, is likely also due to the greater retention of the device itself. Piper Jaffray has found iPhone retention rates to be as high as 94 percent, compared with 47 percent for Android. Still, the analytics company believes the former figure can be improved.

€œIn most cases, the iPhone 4S will look €˜new€™ to the app publisher, even though the user might have months of prior exposure to the app on the older iPhone 3GS,€ said the blog post. €œTo correctly identify returning users across devices, publishers need to record registration data as part of their app analytics.€

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.


Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel