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This guest post by Mack Flavelle of Tapstream looks at retention rates for iOS apps from May 2014 compared to one year prior. Retention rates 1 day after download, 7 days, and 30 days, all dropped significantly in the last year. Mack goes on to explain some possible causes of this decrease.

  • JB

    Joseph Bentzel

    almost 5 years ago #

    This is an excellent piece of research. But I think it goes beyond app store saturation and competition for user attention. To my way of thinking the data cited comes close to providing validation for 3 controversial beliefs I've held for some time. These beliefs are:

    1. The application of the concept of MVP is increasingly broken. The data here supports this idea without going so far as to make this kind of controversial statement. In my own writing I characterize the practice of MVP as the practice of turning users into 'crash test dummies' for 'lean startups'. It's a fundamental startup culture problem in 2014. Too much emphasis on 'minimum', too little on 'viable'---people 'churn' out and you're not likely to 'growth hack' them back in that easily.

    2. The doctrine of 'developers as the new kingmakers' (O'Grady) is increasingly at end of life in mobile consumer markets. Without a product marketing process applied properly at the front end of the product development exercise, this is what you get. Lots of 'developer-driven' unplugged apps with no traction and no user stickiness.

    3. Last but not least. The whole-hearted embrace of MVP & 'kingmaker theory' by 'Tier 1' VCs and incubators has served to enable poor product quality in the name of agility. It's not just that the barriers are lower for 'apps' but for startups in general. It's like one big episode of HBO's 'Silicon Valley'---and the poor quality is rationalized by the 'iterative' argument. "We'll get it right on the way to 'product/market' fit." Magnify any and all quality/usability issues by apps that request a lot of user access permissions to data, etc. and who the hell needs it.

    It's too bad that the data referred to here is 'anonymized'. I'd like to see the details by app and app vendor.

    Tapstream and Andrew Chen have done the industry a service with this info. But this is the kind of analysis we should see from a Gartner or Forrester or GigaOM all the time.

    If I had a vote at Apple or Google today I'd immediately start creating a new 'pay to play' tier for quality developers in the app stores. Pay and pay big to list your app. Raise the cost of entry, improve app quality, and weed out the weak stuff up front. At the end of the day its not just an app developer issue. It's an ecosystem quality issue for the mobile device superpowers.

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