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Mobile Apps Struggle to Retain Most Users in China

Education and learning are the best-performing apps

December 21, 2015

Across categories, the vast majority of mobile apps launched in China do not engage users for more than a week, according to research. And smartphone users in the country may be installing fewer apps to begin with.

Average Retention Rate over the First Week for Mobile App Installs in China, by Category, Sep 2015

According to data from Umeng about activity tracked on its platform, no category of mobile app in China retained even a quarter of its users after the first week. The best-performing apps were in the education and learning space, with a 23.6% retention rate. Finance and wealth management apps were just slightly behind, at 23.5%.

Health apps, navigational and GPS apps, and lifestyle apps were each retained by at least one in five users one week after they were first launched.

At the other end of the spectrum, just 14.7% of theme wallpaper apps were still installed on mobile devices one week after their first launch, and video apps were doing little better.

Not only are users quick to abandon apps in many categories, but other research also suggests that smartphone users in China are downloading fewer apps to begin with than they were just a few years ago. Deloitte reported that nearly half of smartphone users had not downloaded any apps in 2015 or 2014—up from 24% in 2013.

Average Number of Mobile Apps Downloaded per Month According to Smartphone Users in China, 2013-2015 (% of respondents)

In June 2015, Analysys International found that social networking apps had the greatest reach in China, at 93.1% of mobile device users on the Analysys International Enfodesk network. Instant messaging and chat apps—which are more prevalent in China than anywhere else in the world—were a close second, at nearly nine in 10 users.

In September, Analysys International reported that WeChat was the No. 1 mobile app in China ranked by monthly active users, with an audience of more than half a billion that month. QQ was in second place, followed by Baidu Mobile.


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