App providers need to adopt retention strategies in maturing market: Gartner
Mobile software usage is about to plateau, says research firm
Mobile app developers will need to focus their energies on consumer retention as the app market stagnates, according to a Gartner survey.
The research company declared that the mobile apps market is reaching maturity and user engagement has stopped growing at rates previously seen.
"After eight years of searching for, downloading and using smartphone apps, users are maturing in their usage behaviors," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner." However, we may see those patterns change in the future as users integrate apps more deeply into their daily lives."
In a bid to quantify how users feel about their use of apps, Gartner conducted a survey of more than 2,000 US and German consumers in 2014. Gartner considers both countries as mature markets and thus "comparisons can be made with other markets that are more or less mature in terms of mobile app adoption".
The survey looked at current app behaviour patterns and how consumers intend to use apps in the future, as well as shedding light on how consumers perceive their individual app usage by category.
"While it is clear that app use is high across all categories, some categories of apps, such as social networking and video, have a very high overall weekly usage," Gartner said in a statement. "Usage rates, some approaching daily use for most users, are consistent with other observations of the marketplace, such as how businesses brand and use apps as a main touchpoint.
"Even for a less-used app category, for example fitness, there is high use within that group. Fitness has only 23% and 16% use, in the US and Germany, respectively, among all smartphone users, but for those who use fitness apps, more than seven out of 10 are using those apps weekly or more frequently."
According to the survey, smartphone users are content with their current level of engagement with apps. With such a strong predilection for the status quo, Gartner expects to see a continued high level of interest in apps. That interest, however, may not change dramatically over time and engagement with apps overall may be reaching a plateau. Although this may be good news for app engagement overall, app product managers will be challenged to create and monetise new opportunities because many users won't change their app consumption patterns
"It's not that smartphone users have lost interest in apps, users remain excited about what apps can do for them in their daily lives, including for work and non-work app scenarios," said Blau. "However, app users need to be convinced about the value of the app. Their willingness for new app experiences is open-ended, but their plan is to keep their same patterns of use. Users will try new apps, but they need to be convinced of an app's value before they adopt them and change use patterns over the long term."