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    The first casualties of bad network service are the app makers – Opensignal


    Expect the unacceptable and work around it

    A new report details how mobile app publishers are being fatally sold short by the lack of service continuity between telcos and their customers. The knock on effect of each period of downtime is that users take their frustrations out on the app makers and dispense of their services, even though the continuity error was not their own. For the application developers, this means the use of their system, by the customer, isn’t perceived as being consistent enough to keep on their mobile. The app maker, in return, cannot generate the recurring revenues they seek from advertising, in-app purchases and paid subscriptions, according to a study by Opensignal.

    This new type of analysis undertaken by the researcher exposes a new weakness in the business model of app makers who rely of the type of continuity that operators can’t realistically achieve. When the connection they provide is poor, users spend much less time on apps as dissatisfaction sets in. if the bad experience becomes an expectancy they are less likely to give the app space on their device and they are consigned to the junk bin of bad history. It’s a brutal business.

    This new insight exposes the link between poor mobile connectivity and disloyalty, as users spend 20% less time in each app session. Poor Wi-Fi creates an even more crushing disappointment with users spending 38% less time. After seven days, app retention rates are 49% lower for users that have seen consistently poor connectivity.

    Poor connectivity is commonplace said Opensignal. According to the data gathered by the researcher, users experienced a poor signal in 29% of mobile app sessions. With Wi-Fi, 11% of app sessions had a poor signal. This directly hits app revenues while whipping up user dissatisfaction. Almost all apps are monetised by in-app purchases or advertising. Both business models fail without continual use of the app reports 2022 total global app revenues were $336 billion for advertising and $167bn for app store spend, of which almost all was either in-app purchases or paid subscriptions. Smartphone users have a poor cellular signal during 29% of app sessions. This means app sessions with active data transfers are 20% shorter, so fewer adverts get seen by users. Amazingly if users spend less time in apps they are more likely to cancel ongoing paid subscriptions or uninstall it. On Wi-Fi, there is an even greater drop in app session length of 38% during the 11% of time with a poor Wi-Fi signal.

    The promised wave of extended reality (XR) and augmented reality offerings from Apple and Meta will fail without fast low latency connections to cloud services. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces combines relatively lightweight XR glasses with a tethered smartphone which provides both computing power and mobile connectivity while keeping the weight of the glasses to a minimum. More immediately, video players see the largest drop on mobile and Wi-Fi connections with a poor signal, with 61% shorter session on mobile and a nearly identical 60% shorter time on Wi-Fi. Numerous categories of video being failed include Lifestyle, Navigation, News & Magazines, Education and Shopping.

    Users are the most likely to uninstall apps on the first day after download. Approximately half of Android apps were uninstalled within 30 days of download, and nearly half of those were uninstalled inside the first 24 hours according to AppsFlyer. Opensignal data indicates even higher numbers of instant uninstall rates when smartphone users face poor network connectivity. There are significant increases across different app categories, with Video Players apps being uninstalled 31% more when there’s a poor signal on the first day, followed by News & Magazines 24% and Lifestyle 23% more often. App retention across the first seven days after installation saw first day app retention fall 16% worse when there is a poor signal because usage of the apps has reduced. This difference widens over time. On day three it reaches 41%, and by day seven mobile app retention is 49% lower with poor signal. “Users with poor connectivity are much more likely to either stop using or even uninstall apps over time, not just on day one,” said Opensignal.

    However, by analysing mobile connectivity the vendors of apps to could improve revenue, according to the analysis. Tackling poor connectivity will also help app publishers that choose to distribute their apps as part of a subscription service such as Apple Arcade or in the Netflix mobile game app offering. While usage of the game apps is covered by a flat-rate mobile subscription, the more users play the app, the longer the duration of the app sessions is, the longer the apps are kept installed. Ergo, the more likely the curators of Apple Arcade and Netflix’s game are to offer to keep those titles in their catalogue and continue to pay the app creator.

    If app developers and publishers can improve users’ experience during the time spent with poor connectivity they can boost recurring advertising, in-app and subscription revenues. Another possible cure to the problem is to see if app creators can lengthen app sessions during poor connectivity. This would means apps can display more adverts to users, increase revenue and boost engagement.

    “With greater satisfaction, users are less likely to uninstall apps too,” said the report, “Users, app developers and app publishers will all benefit through improving connectivity for all.”