February 19th, 2016

Android Apps Retain Just 23% Of Daily Users In The First Week

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It’s not you, it’s me.

Musician Billy Joel once sang, “get it right the first time, that’s the main thing. Can’t afford to let it pass.

For app publishers, if the experience of an app is not spot on when an app is first opened, then the app will not live long on a person’s phone. Apps that do not provide quality experience and utility off the bat are going to get dumped.

“We’ve seen the better apps that right out of the gate what they are doing is they’re creating an entire kind of welcome experience,” said Josh Todd, chief marketing officer at Localytics. “An on boarding experience. They are really thinking about how they onboard those users into the app. How do they get them as comfortable with the app as quickly as possible?”

App retention rates are hugely important. Popular apps stick around for a long time. Useful apps don’t get uninstalled.

The Essential Guide Guide to Android 6.0 Marshmallow What you need to know about all the features of Android 6.0 Get It Now

Building A Relationship Takes Time

Most apps don’t get to a second or third impression.

A recent report by mobile data collection company SimilarWeb said that post-installation activity is calculated in hours and days. Most apps are lucky to see out the week after install. Most people use an app on the first day of install and then decide within three to seven days that it is either not what they wanted or turn their attention to something else.

The challenge for app developers is to make sure that it is love at first sight or (at the very least) an app relationship that does not need daily engagement.


According to SimilarWeb, it takes around eight months for an app gathering cobwebs on a device to be uninstalled although that drops to seven months for games. The average app retains just 23% of daily active users within the first three days after installation, while after 3 months only 9% of people are using it on a regular basis. That figure is even worse for games—3% of people who installed the game are still engaged with the app, the report said.

“There is a big divide in the usage and install characteristics of an app,” said the report. “After installing an app, people generally hesitate to delete it.”

See also: The Average App Loses 77% Of Its Users In The First Three Days

The usage numbers should not come as a surprise to any app developer. App retention rates drop for apps that burn bright and then die out and it takes something special to maintain interest, usage and revenue.

Apps with staying power offer something to a user. That is why Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Spotify just get bigger and better—they provide a reason to interact every day.

High Install Rates Do Not Equal App Retention

The report analyzed data from four million global app users and only apps with over 10,000 installs and a shelf-life of 24 months were considered. For the purposes of the report, SimilarWeb only looked at Android apps and excluded pre-installed Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and Maps.

Eight categories were studied—health and fitness, media and video, news and magazines, communication, photography, social, productivity, music and audio. All of these had high install rates within the first month of release—a range of 94.29% (social) to 98.42% for news apps. Even after three months install rates are reasonable, with every category still no lower than 86.3% (social).


Usage and app retention rates are a different story. All apps plummet within the first 10 days but only three categories maintain a modicum of usage—news and magazines, music and audio, social. Health and fitness apps have the worst install and usage retention rate—less than 0.25% of installs are used within 10 days—and after 90 days … let’s just say that an app has flatlined.

Productivity apps record high install retention rates—around 77.2% for an average app—but then show a daily usage rate of 8.7%. Social apps have a high install retention rate over 24 months, with the average app still on 81.4% of devices.

The Social Network Is Still The Winner

Facebook still leads the way with a daily usage retention rate of 69.6%, although the average social app—that isn’t one of the global brands—only records a rate of 8.7%. While Facebook is the social network that we think of first, it doesn’t have the highest 24-month install retention rate … that honor goes to Russia’s VK with a score of 90.1% compared to Facebook’s 86.9%, the report said.


Facebook can take credit for the Android app that is uninstalled the least. According to SimilarWeb, WhatsApp is deleted by 6.2% of people after install while you have to spare a thought for the developers behind avatar app Line Play … 71.6% of people install, use and discard without a second thought.

“There can be many different reasons that people stay with an app, even if they seldom use it,” the report said. “Plummeting usage retention rates are an indication, however, that users either just might not be into your app, or only have an occasional need for it.”

image: “Online Dating” by Flickr user Thomas8047, Creative Commons.