Nearly 1 in 4 users abandon an app after just one use

“The percentage of users who abandon an app after one use is now 23%, a slight improvement from the 25% we saw in 2015,” Caitlin O’Connell reports for Localytics. “But clearly, with about one in four users still only using an app once, not enough has been done to match what consumers want and restore apps to the success of just a few years ago.”

“With that in mind, today we are releasing an annual update to our app user retention study, which measures loyalty and abandonment across our user base of 37,000 apps. Five years in, we have a solid understanding of what user retention should look like as well as the factors that can cause it to fluctuate,” O’Connell reports. “In the study, we also found that user retention recovered from 34% in 2015, a dip of 5 percentage points from the previous year, to reach 38% in 2016. While this number is also an improvement, there is still work to be done in order to avoid churn and ultimately convert more users to loyal customers. Because even though 38% will return to an app 11 or more times, that means a whopping 62% will use an app less than 11 times. This is not a sustainable business model.”

App abandonment

“iOS user retention improves to 36%. One of the causes behind the change this year is improvement in user retention for iOS apps. The percentage of iOS users only opening an app once fell from 26% to 24%. The percentage of iOS users returning to an app 11 or more times increased from 32% to 36%,” O’Connell reports. “One potential reason for this could be the advancements made to the overall app experience on iOS devices. From multitasking to split screen to allowing notifications to be presented in chronological order versus grouping them by app, Apple has had a focus on improving the way consumers engage with their favorite apps.”

App retention rate

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Some apps you have to download and try to see how they work (for example, with Apple Watch) and what they offer. Anecdotally, this make sense to use since about one in four apps that we try only get run once before we delete them because they didn’t work as we needed or expected.


  1. Recently I wanted an app that would show me sunrise and sunset times. I downloaded 8 or 9 of them and ended up keeping two, one because I liked the widget, and the other because of being able to check future dates. The others had poor interfaces and were never going to do what I wanted. Something more in depth you have to live with a bit. I currently have 4 calendar apps installed. I tend to use one 90% of the time, but I have the others because there are certain views that they offer that I like, some of them also have widgets that I find useful at a glance. Because they use shared data I can get away with using them all.

  2. There is a point where the app market place has so many apps, that it’s difficult to care anymore. I have apps I was loyal to, which were abandoned by the developer. Many of them, I have simply lost interest or determined, instead of the app being helpful it’s time wasted. Another point. There are so many apps of a function, I just need once. I use it, delete it, then figure if I need it again in the future, either it will still be there and improved, or it will be abandoned and I would need to get something else anyway.

    It was much more exciting several years ago. Now it’s kinda blah. Maybe the discovery process needs to change.

  3. The problem is not so much with users being fickle, but with app developers making too many disappointing apps.

    If I’m looking for an app for a particular purpose, there may well be a number of apps that claim to do what I want, but many of them will be hopelessly flawed. It may be user interface issues, intrusive embedded advertising or the app simply not doing the job very effectively. If an app doesn’t do what I hope it will do, it gets deleted as soon as I have tried it – and that applies to paid downloads as well as free apps.

    Sometimes the descriptions in the app store are rather misleading and quite often the user reviews do not align with my judgement. The only option is to try it for myself and make my own assessment.

  4. I think the app store reviewers for apps should step up their game in some respects, and change a little. Guess what I see in the list of MFI controller enabled apps? “jump game” “monster truck sim game” “best truck sim game truck” “best tiles game”… No fighting games, no adventure games, just little games, small projects that should not be on an app store. It reminds me more of Android than what should be on an Apple store. I still think game system emulators should be on the App Store, but whatever. That’s why I have a Mac, I guess.

  5. Not surprising. The tech press provides no reliable review of new apps and the 5 screen shot app store promo write ups are hopeful at best, so you’re left to decide if the price is worth the possibility of a good new tool. At $1-$3, I take some shots. at $10, damned few. Over that, probably not without a major need and a lot of positive reviews. Really good curation and a powerful search tool in the app store are sadly missing.

  6. App space is weird. I try apps all the time – many from bogus online “reviews” stating “it’s a great app”. Most of those are no doubt paid for, so yes, many tries, few keepers.
    Now, the bog thing that has me nuking apps is the data-sharing they all seem to want now. No thanks. No Google, you can’t have full access to everything I type. Not even for a cute little G button on my keyboard.

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