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Almost 1 in 4 users or 23% of the users, identified from over 2.7 billion devices and 37,000 mobile applications, abandoned an app after single use in 2016, a study by analytics firm Localytics suggested. Last year that number stood at 25%. Even though there was a drop in the number of people ditching an app after the very first usage when compared to last year, the study says, “not enough has been done to match what consumers want and restore apps to the success of just a few years ago”.

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For two consecutive years—2012 and 2013—Localytics found that 22% of people abandoned an app after first use. This number dropped to 20% in 2014, signaling a shift in mobile apps engagement.  However, in 2015, there was a sharp rise in people abandoning apps after first use to about 25%.

User retention rate: Another key metric used by the study to identify how users engage with mobile apps is ‘user retention’ which is the percentage of users who return to an app eleven or more times.  In 2016, user retention rate stood at 38%, which increased from 34% in 2015. This means that 62% of users in 2016 used an app less than 11 times. This trend in app usage suggests that mobile is not a “sustainable business model”, according to the study. Note that user retention increased from 31% in 2012 to a peak level of 39% in 2014.

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User engagement on mobile platforms

iOS app usage is improving: Interestingly, the study mentions that iOS apps had a better user retention rate when compared to other mobile platforms. The percentage of iOS users trying out an app just once fell from 26% in 2015  to about 24% in 2016. The percentage of iOS users returning to an app 11 or more times increased from 32% in 2015 to at least 36% in 2016.

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Localyics credits the improved usage trends on iOS to the “overall app experience on iOS devices”. Features like multi-tasking, split-screen and allowing notification to be presented in a chronological manner rather than grouping them app wise, have helped improve user engagement on iOS, added the study.

Android should be catching up this year: Even though iOS depicted a better user engagement, we believe Google’s Android platform might display the same trend for the rest of this year. During this year’s Google I/O conference, the company launched Android Instant Apps, which allows users to instantly load native mobile apps or apps available on the Android Play Store without having them installed on a smartphone. A user can do this by just clicking on a URL and the external link will directly load the app on to the phone. Developers will have to partition their apps into bits of executable pieces, which is put together when onw click on an Instant App link

Other highlights from the study

Mid-level apps had better user engagement: Apps in mid-stage of growth between 15,000 and 50,000 monthly active users showed an improved user engagement. The percentage of users launching an app just once fell from 31% in 2015 to about 28% in 2016. On the other hand, the percentage of users returning to an app 11 or more times increased from 23% in 2015 to about 28% in 2016.

In app messages drives user engagement: Apps using some kind of a default “in-app message” feature witnessed 46% of their users come back 11 or more times, while apps that did not have an in-app strategy saw that number drop to 36%. Additionally, 17% of users launched an app once if they see an in-app message, while apps without in-app messages had a higher 26% of its users abandoning the app after one session.