Mobile Users Most Loyal to News, Reference Apps

Marketing Charts reports: Mobile applications that provide news or reference services are the most frequently used by consumers over the longest periods of time and are most suited for subscription-based and ad-supported models, while more “gimmicky” entertainment-related apps are used least for the shortest periods of time and lend themselves to one-time download fees, according to an analysis by Flurry.

In its attempt to  discover which types of applications are used over the longest periods of time and the best ways to market and price them, Flurry examined user retention of mobile applications used on the Apple, Google Android, Blackberry and JavaME platforms across 19 categories by checking to see if users returned to use a downloaded application within 30, 60 and 90-day periods.

The analysis also examined the frequency with which consumers used applications over those time periods.

flurry-mobile-application-quadrants-loyalty-application-type-september-2009

Key findings:

  • The most frequently used apps over the longest periods of time are in the  News and Reference categories (e.g., dictionaries, thesauri, recipes, etc.) and are represented in Quadrant I of the following chart. Flurry found that news apps, on average,  get used more than once per day, at a rate of 11 times per week.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, many apps in the Entertainment category – which includes Lighter, Fart, IQ Test, ringtones and similar apps – are represented in Quadrant III. Once downloaded, these apps are typically used only a few times and then left for dead.
  • Categories such as Books and Games are the two largest categories in both the Apple App Store and Android Market. These types of applications, represented in Quadrant II, are characterized by  intense usage over a finite period of time.
  • Social Networking apps  (which include both social networks and all major instant-messaging clients), Productivity apps (e.g., list, drawing, wi-fi finder apps), Navigation and Medical apps are represented in Quadrant IV. These kinds of apps remain on a consumer’s handset for a long period of time, but get used only occasionally. “Unlike “gimmick” apps, however, they are perceived as having sustainable value and are revisited over time,” Flurry said.

In terms of pricing models, the analysis concluded that categories on the right-hand side of the grid (Quadrants I and IV) are better suited to subscription and ad-supported models because customers perceive them to have sustainable value over longer periods of time. Categories on the left-hand side (Quadrants II and III) are better suited for one-time download fees because they provide higher immediate satisfaction to users, but their content quickly loses value after their novelty wears off.

Applications in the News, Weather, Reference and Books categories have the highest frequency of use per week, the study found.  The following chart provides more data on retention by category and frequency of use:

flurry-mobile-application-loyalty-by-category-september-20091

About the data: The data used to compile this information was computed from a sample of 2,000 applications and more than 200 million user sessions tracked each month across Apple (iPhone and iPod Touch), Google Android, Blackberry, JavaME platforms.

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