Why Mobile App Uninstalls are More Common in the Developing World

01/27/16

As a mobile app attribution and data management services provider for a host of countries around the world, we see both commonalities and differences between the mobile app markets in different regions. One such difference is the frequency of uninstalls in developing versus developed economies.

Specifically, reported uninstall rates are higher in developing economies like India, China Brazil and Southeast Asia than in the EU or the US. Why? There are likely a variety of factors, including:

  1. Phone Memory Size: The most popular phones in developing markets tend to have much smaller memories than those in developed economies. Many of the most popular phones, for example, have 1GB of memory, versus 16GB for the smallest iPhone 6. When a phone has a smaller memory, consumers must choose their apps carefully, or periodically uninstall apps they are not currently using in order to make room for other applications. They may choose to reinstall an app at a later date when the value proposition is more timely and urgent. But there are no guarantees that this will happen, which ultimately limits lifetime value. Further, it means a customer must be won over and over through marketing efforts and the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  2. More Incentivized Mobile App Downloads: Many more app installs come via incentivized download programs in the developing world. App developers tend to use these platforms more in developing economies for different reasons, but it is clear that they have an impact. Free wifi for app download, free virtual goods for app download, and piggyback app downloads are quite common in developing markets. While some incentivized mobile app install programs attract high quality users, others drive installs with people who may ultimately have little interest in an app. Naturally, those  installs are much less likely to stick.
  3. Network Issues That Appear to Be Product Issues: In markets where data service is spotty, it’s possible that a consumer will misinterpret network issues for app product issues. In those instances, uninstalls may be driven up even though the app itself is not faulty.
  4. Lower Percentage of Paid Apps: Owing to greater price sensitivity as well as lower incidence of credit card usage, paid app penetration in the developing world tends to be lower. Paid apps, perhaps not surprisingly, have lower uninstall rates than free apps.

Whatever the reasons, it is clear that app uninstalls tend to be higher in places like India, China and Latin America than in the US or EU. But  uninstalls are an issue for a large proportion of apps across all regions, and marketers would be wise to better understand their uninstall rates, their sources of greater uninstalls, and the strategies to combat them.

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