What Prompts Smartphone Users to Download Apps – and Why Do They Delete Them?

Yahoo-New-App-Download-Prompts-Jan2016Roughly one-third of smartphone users aged 13-64 replace apps on their device at least a few times a week, and around half (52%) do so at least once a month, according to a new report from Yahoo. The report separately indicates that most applications have been deleted by the 3 month mark post-download if they’re not being used, while almost one-third are deleted in 1 week or less.

The survey was fielded among 2,590 smartphone users aged 13-64 in the US. Some 29% of the respondents reported being smartphone dominant (users who spend most of their time on their smartphones, and are using them to replace their PCs), with the remainder expecting to be smartphone dominant in the future.

On average, apps lie dormant for 12 weeks prior to being deleted, per the results, with content apps being the quickest to churn (11 weeks) and travel being among those taking slightly longer (13 weeks). The top reason given for deleting an app is non-use (stopping using the app; 55%), though many also pointed to having found a better or more useful app (53%), having become bored of the app (52%), the presence of too many ads (46%) and lack of storage or memory (45%).

That last point is interesting in light of other data in the study suggesting that storage concerns play a large role as an app deletion trigger. And in a recently-released survey from Quixey, mobile device owners said that the storage space taken up is what they like the least about apps.

The study comments that “app replacement is what is driving app downloads,” and data from the report certainly suggests that replacement is one of the triggers behind downloads. Indeed, 6 in 10 respondents said that frustration or dissatisfaction with the current version of an app is a general prompt for downloading a new app. However, that was outweighed by numerous other prompts, including:

  • Looking for something new/bored – 80%;
  • Personal recommendation – 74%;
  • Kids – 70%;
  • Mobile browser not being sufficient – 68%; and
  • Needing an app to make the shopping experience better – 65%.

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It’s notable that personal recommendations rank highly, as previous research from Google and Ipsos has indicated that word-of-mouth is a key driver of smartphone app discovery and a leading reason why users download apps.

Interestingly, while ads fell slightly further down the list of prompts, a slight majority of respondents to the Yahoo survey reported that ads prompt them to download apps. Similarly, around half said that online ads would restart their usage of a dormant app, a figure close to the 52% who said that a recommendation from family, friends or colleagues would do the same.

Meanwhile, another trigger for downloads is the app store, where respondents said they’re as likely to conduct a broad search for a category as they are to go directly to the app they’re looking for. Not surprisingly, reviews and ratings are important factors when users search within the app store, and negative reviews emerged as the leading reason given for not installing an app on a smartphone. The next-most common reason for not installing an app? Not having enough storage on the phone…