Report: Daily bug encounters are enough to drive 88% of users away from a mobile app

It's no surprise that bugs and glitches drive users away from apps. What is surprising, however, is how little it actually takes. Developers, be wary: Even the smallest bugs can kill an app.

Jovan V. Nikolic

Software testing company QualiTest recently polled mobile app users to determine how buggy an app has to be before they abandon it. The results indicate that users are quick to abandon apps based on perceived flaws and--more importantly for developers--8 out of 10 people do experience glitches or find bugs in apps they use regularly.

Developers should take note of that 80% figure: If your app gets used daily it's entirely possible there are bugs in it that your users know about but you may not. Getting those bugs fixed quickly is essential to user retention, especially given that 88% of users polled said glitches are enough to make them abandon an app completely.

With an average cost per install (CPI) hovering around $2.00 companies can hardly afford to lose nearly 90% of their audience to bugs. Thousands of apps are released every month, making a small slip potentially devastating.

It doesn't take much for a user to give up

The numbers QualiTest pulled paint a clear picture of app users: They want something that works and don't have a lot of tolerance when apps fail to perform up to expectations.

See: Mobile app development policy (Tech Pro Research)

13% of those polled say it would only take a few bugs in a month of use for them to give an app up, 24% said the same of a few bugs in a week, 37% said they'd abandon if a few bugs happened a day, and 14% said it only takes a single bug to drive them away. Only 12% say they stick with apps through thick and thin, far too few users to make an app a good investment.

It's entirely possible that a user may ignore a bug if other features of an app are worth their time, but there's another problem: Nearly 40% say they're likely to kill an app the moment they encounter a problem. If your app targets an older audience this especially applies to you: Those in the 35 to 54 demographic are more likely to force quit than those between 18 and 34.

40% is a huge number of people closing out an app due to a bug, which means they aren't seeing other features that may turn them into loyal users in spite of a problem. With only 22% of users saying they live bug-free lives the odds are good that your app has an issue buried somewhere that QA didn't account for--how many users has it cost you?

There are plenty of apps in the store: Make yours count

Let's face it: Your app isn't unique, and if it is it won't be for long. There is a surplus of developers churning out a surplus of apps and many do the same thing as those that came before them. In many cases those newer apps improve on their predecessors, unseating them and becoming the new go-to.

SEE: Five things your branded mobile app needs to succeed (TechRepublic)

There are a lot of things you can do to make your app better--far too many to list here. Instead I've included a collection of links from other TechRepublic and ZDNet articles full of strategies, how-to's, and what-not-to-do's. Check them out if you want to position your app as one that users recommend instead of warn people about.

The three big takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. A new study found that 8 out of 10 people experience bugs in the mobile apps they use regularly, and 88% of users are likely to abandon apps due to those bugs.
  2. Only 22% say they never experience bugs, and only 12% say that they continue to use apps regardless of problems. With both those numbers so small no developer should assume their app is bug-free.
  3. There are hundreds of thousands of apps out there. The onus is on developers to make theirs worth users' time, and that means being bug-free (or at the very least responsive to issues).