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App retention rates past 90-day mark jump 10 percent

Flurry examines the most appropriate promotion and monetization strategies for Apple's App Store
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What a difference three years make: According to an updated research report from Flurry, the number of consumers who continue to use mobile apps more than three months after they first install them has seen a 10 percent jump since 2009.

In "Apps Engagement: The Matrix Reloaded," Flurry researchers examined apps from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store that are used more than 1.7 billion times each week and grouped them into "plots" or quadrants based on duration and the frequency of usage. Since the last time Flurry analyzed this data, 90-day retention rates have jumped from 25 percent to 35 percent. On a potential down note, however, consumers seem to be using apps less often throughout the week, about 3.7 times vs. the 6.7 times that Flurry reported in 2009.

Flurry - App loyalty chart

Flurry's chart plots app categories by retention and frequency of use.

According to Flurry, the 90-day retention rates suggest developers may be on the right track to creating products and strategies that encourage loyalty among their install base.

"We attribute increased retention rates to increased quality in the market, driven by more competition. With tens of thousands of more companies building apps and hundreds of thousands of more available apps, the quality of apps has risen dramatically. Simply put, app makers are getting better at holding a consumer's attention longer," the report says. "Additionally, we believe usage rates are lower because consumers have more choice(s) than ever and are splitting their time across more applications. While Flurry included 19 categories in its 2009 report, we now include 30 distinct categories as the industry has matured and more distinct verticals have appeared."

Flurry's researchers also make some distinctions between various app genres. For example, the report differentiates between single player games and social games because of the different ways consumers use them. Other sub-categories were created beyond what Apple already defines in its App Store where it made sense to do so, the report said.

The report offers a good primer in how developers could think about different app use cases and the impact they would have on retention and loyalty. For example, news apps provided a highly consistent long-term retention rate because the value of the content and the frequency with which people want to access it. Dating apps, on the other hand, may see greater customer churn if they do what they're supposed to do. This latter segment, however, can see more intense usage during shorter periods and can span gaming and music, Flurry said.

Flurry suggests the data should be used to help determine the right kind of monetization strategy for apps, as well as marketing and promotion efforts.

For more:
- read the full report

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