App retention is one of the most vexing issues for today’s developers. Although many developers focus on cracking the top 25 on the download charts, lest they fade into oblivion, an initial burst of downloads doesn’t matter if no one uses the app a few months later.
As it turns out, some app categories are better than others at retaining users. According to new data published yesterday by app analytics firm Flurry, weather, reference, sports score, news, and travel apps are best at holding on to users, maintaining at least half their initial audience after three months. Meanwhile, budgeting, dating, music, photo and video, and streaming music retain less than a quarter of their users. Most categories cluster around a retention rate of 30 to 50 per cent. Overall, apps had an average rate of 35 per cent after 90 days, up from 25 per cent in 2009.
Retention is only half the equation; engagement is an equally important metric. For example, streaming music apps, like Spotify or Pandora, have a low retention rate, but are used frequently. Others, like travel apps, are by nature unlikely to be used frequently, but their high retention rate suggests users are deriving value from them.
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