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The Rising Tide of Mobile App Engagement

Percentage of apps opened just once fell 6 points between 2011 and 2014

It’s happened to everyone: You download an app, use it once, and it ends up lost in a sea of icons, never to be used again. But based on data released in June 2014 by Localytics, this trend is waning as app retention improves.

Looking at app retention rates—the average number of times an app was used during the first six months of ownership—among mobile app users worldwide, the research found that the percentage of apps opened just once dropped from 26% to 20% between March 2011 and March 2014. Even more impressive, the percentage of users launching an app 11 times or more jumped from 26% to 39% during the same timeframe.

Sport and game apps saw above-average abandonment rates of 23% and 22%, respectively. Social networking and weather apps fell on the other end of the spectrum, with respective rates of 11% and 9%.

Flurry research released in April 2014 revealed huge growth in the number of mobile app users worldwide who launched apps more than 60 times daily. Referred to as “mobile addicts,” this group saw its total increase by 123% between March 2013 and March 2014. And the number of “super users”—those who opened apps between 16 and 60 times daily—grew by a still impressive 55%. Meanwhile, total mobile app users worldwide who launched apps less than 16 times daily, called “regular users,” rose by a much smaller 23%.

App installs should continue to increase rapidly: In April 2014, Yankee Group estimated mobile app downloads worldwide would grow by double digits between 2014 and 2018, rising from 134.15 billion to 341.89 billion. And based on recent trends, it’s likely that many of those apps will see some action once on users’ screens.

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