Mobility

Mobile app developers: Here's what uninstall rates can tell you about your product

Mobile app analytics company AppsFlyer has just released a report about mobile app uninstall rates. Find out how yours compare to the average and what you can do to improve.

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Image: iStock/abluecup

I'll admit it: I'm probably skewing the statistics a bit. I'm constantly installing and uninstalling apps for Android and iOS, and not only because I write a lot about them at TechRepublic. I'm hard to please and the littlest imperfection or lack of delivery leads me to jump ship for something else.

If the figures in mobile app analytics company AppsFlyer's study released today are accurate I'm not the only one. Globally around 16 percent of iOS apps are uninstalled, and Android boasts an impressive 33 percent uninstall rate.

That's just a global average, however, and the specifics of the figures vary greatly based on location and type of app.

Why are so many more Android apps uninstalled?

Those numbers are a bit more shocking for Android developers, and they're even worse for game and news apps when you start to dig down: Nearly 50 percent of those two types are uninstalled on Android.

The report cites two factors that are obvious if you know much about the varying quality of Android phones: Low-end devices can't run newer apps and the average Android devices suffer from less storage space than the newest iPhones.

SEE: Five reasons people hate your mobile app (TechRepublic)

On the less-obvious side are two more factors: First, Android features a lot of utility apps that tell users what they should uninstall to save space—RAM and the like. Second, many apps (especially games) incentivise the installation of other apps for a reward, most of which are promptly uninstalled.

Like most Android vs. iOS comparisons it comes down to the same old thing: Android devices vary greatly and are less controlled by the manufacturer. This increases the chances of encountering bloatware, installing knockoffs of popular apps, and encountering an app that just won't run well.

Ensuring your app stays put

As their respective app stores continue to grow, iOS and Android devs are only going to see their retention rates and profits shrink as new competitors appear. The report includes 12 steps, the most important of which are below, that will help ensure your app isn't relegated to the trash heap.

For starters, be sure you make use of uninstall data for your apps. If you can break down installs and uninstalls based on media sources, campaigns, locations, and channels you can get a good idea of where you're gaining loyal users and focus more energy on marketing your apps there.

SEE: Stack Overflow founder Spolsky: The three skills every software developer should learn (TechRepublic)

Dive deep with in-app analytics too. Knowing what users are doing inside of your app can allow for greater targeting of follow-up emails, in-app ads, and other retention efforts. The report says, for example, that you could look at users who place items in a cart in excess of a certain dollar amount, as opposed to general sales, so you can target other expensive items at those bigger spenders.

Another way to streamline the performance of an app and the web platforms it supports is with deeplinks. Don't assume that you can just toss a few in and hope for the best, though: A deeplink that doesn't work can frustrate a user into uninstalling.

It's all about analytics

Like most other industries, mobile app development is deeply indebted to big data. Success means paying attention to each bit of data you gather on your app and its users. The smallest factor could be a hidden key to success.

Even studying uninstall rates can transform your business overnight.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. 16 percent of iOS apps and 33 percent of Android apps end up uninstalled. These numbers vary greatly based on geographic location and type of app.
  2. Android's fragmented structure, lower-end devices, and varying app quality are largely to blame for its higher rates.
  3. Keeping an app on a user's phone means paying attention to analytics and squeezing every bit of relevant information out of it.

Also see

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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