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Report: Customer retention is a major factor for the App Store

Yes, the conclusion of this report might be a little obvious to anyone who's been following the App Store closely, but it's true: Flurry's latest writeup of App Store stats suggests that keeping users playing a game or using an app can be a major factor in that app's success. Flurry filed the apps it follows into a set of four categories, based on star systems. Black Holes feature low amounts of monthly users, and low amounts of retention over a couple 30-day periods. Shooting Stars have put a lot of users together quickly, with high user numbers, but relatively low retention. Red Dwarfs have lots of user retention, but low numbers overall -- these are cult favorites, used by a smaller amount of very loyal people. And finally, Supernovas have it all, in Flurry's estimation: Lots of users that stay with the app for quite a while.

When you take those categories over to the average number of minutes of usage per month (in the chart above), then things get really interesting: As you can see, the more retention an app has, the more engaged its users are (and whether you're talking about premium apps or apps that use in-app purchases, more engagement usually means more money made). So this is where Flurry gets its conclusion: User retention is extremely important. Even if an app doesn't take off right away in terms of user numbers (if it's not a Shooting Star, with a lot of users who don't stick around), keeping those users over a longer period grows the user base and that user base stays loyal over time.

In the past, a lot of developers have aimed for that Shooting Star status -- they push on big launches, and try to put a huge number of users together very quickly after an app's release. But this report shows that there's another market on the App Store, one that moves a little more slowly (and doesn't collect as many users as quickly), but that can become very large and engaged indeed, sometimes over a matter of months or even years.

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