In 2015, the penetration rate of mobile internet usage has exceeded 50 percent and mobile applications are more popular than ever. As of February 2016 there were some 2 million apps available in Google Play, the world’s largest app store, a dramatic increase from 16 thousand apps in December 2009. As of June 2016, the second largest app distribution platform, the Apple Store, boasted an increase in its number of available apps from 800 in July 2008 to also 2 million and estimated that their apps were downloaded a cumulative 130 billion times. However, in the ephemeral world of apps, acquisition does not equal retention. As of 2016, it is estimated that 23 percent apps downloaded by mobile app users worldwide were only used once during the first six months of ownership.
Apps are relatively easier to create than computer applications and programs, as they involve less code, simpler graphics, a limited range of features and require less memory space. Unlike many computer programs, apps are also more likely to be either free or to retail for small sums of money, which in turn might impose a hedonistic approach in consumer behavior – users excitingly download many free or cheap apps without guilt, but not always end up using them. According to industry experts, there are different reasons causing users to lose interest, such as too many features, too many push notifications or annoying ads, as well as requests of unnecessary or poorly explained permissions. Yet other strong reasons for abandoning a mobile app are frequent crashing or slow connections.
A study on the categories of apps only used once during the first six months of ownership shows that 23 percent of sports apps and 22 percent of game apps were most at risk of losing users.