Did you know that the average mobile app has the attention span of only 25% of the audience from day 2 of its installation. Essentially 75% of the audience that used the app on day 1 never come back to it. Another study shows the average shelf life of an app in the market is only 30 days from when it was launched. Sometime back, I was of the strong opinion that a major reason for this is the poor quality of the apps. Freelance app developers often do not test the app as much as it needs to. Also, when they take up all tasks all the way from design to development to test to release, their biased view of the app may hinder their creativity in being able to think like an end user. All of these are significant attributes in in bringing down the app acceptance once it hits the market. While this can be fixed with bringing in some conscious quality, end users into the testing mix, this alone cannot pull down an app’s acceptance to this low a number.
Recently I have been reading a wonderful book on “Habit forming products” which talks about how habitual apps and products can grow to be on users that once a loyalty is built it is very difficult for them to move on to something new. You may think a new app which is better will make the cut but the author talks about how often, app developers over rate the marginal improvements their apps offer, only to be disappointed with the outcomes once the app is live. While in some cases, the app idea is vetted through a feasibility analysis, in most cases, this is not done either due to lack of time / resources or the desire to work in a stealth mode fearing the leak of the app idea if discussed amongst end users. However, if the feasibility study is planned and executed effectively it can prove to be very valuable in gauging the market pulse and also helping set market expectations even before the app is launched.
And in cases where determining the app’s acceptance turns difficult, it may be a worthwhile idea to first develop a mobile website instead of an app. There are several strong reasons around cost, reach, that make a mobile website a better choice than an app. One can start this route and then plan to go the mobile app route using the first version as a market gauge study. Studies also show that a mobile app may not always be the best choice – in some cases, a mobile website may be a better choice. It makes sense for such a conscious decision to be made upfront whenever an app idea is moved into the development stage.
The industry is slowly paying very close attention to the mobile shelf life numbers and app developers are taking important steps to improve them. Focusing on the core idea, validating and verifying it thoroughly along with making a conscious call as to whether a mobile app or a website makes sense, are all important aspects to further improve these numbers.