Speed, Stability, and Reliability: Decrease Mobile App Churn & Increase ROI

It’s estimated that the average mobile app loses 70% of its daily average users (DAUs) within the first three days and 90% of its DAUs within the first month. After three months, the average app has lost 95% of its DAUs. For companies who rely on mobile apps, these statistics underscore the value and importance of understanding your mobile customers, what they want, and how to best meet their needs.

Stability & Reliability

Few things impact whether an app succeeds or fails as much as stability and reliability. While this may seem obvious, many developers don’t realize just how much their users demand that an app perform reliably.

For example, research shows that 84% of mobile users will abandon an app if it crashes twice. That means that a mere 16% will stick by your app through more than two crashes. Similarly, another study showed that apps freezing (76%) and crashing (71%) were the top two irritations with mobile apps. Of those polled, 44% said they would delete a problematic app immediately. In spite of these figures, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store are filled with apps with one or two-star reviews due to crashes and freezes.

This means that developers are essentially wasting time and money developing apps that will never gain any real traction as long as those stability problems exist. Worse yet, even if the developers are able to get to the root of the problem and fix the issues, the damage to the app’s reputation may be irreparable.

Adding to the complexity of the issue is whether what the user is experiencing is a true crash or only something that appears to be a crash. For example, out-of-memory (OOM) errors are a common occurrence when a developer fails to utilize streams for downloading files, attempts to open a large file without caching or resizing it, or fails to properly utilize garbage collection. While, technically, an OOM exception is not a true crash, to the end user it is still perceived as such and results in the same outcome: lost users.


The studies cited above show that performance is the third biggest issue mobile users reported, with 59% citing slow responsiveness as their biggest gripe with an app. In fact, 59% of users expect an app to load in two seconds or less, and all users expect an app to load in four seconds or less.

Unfortunately, start time is only one marker for an app’s performance. Throughout its function, an app must continue to be responsive to user input, opening new screens, dialogue prompts, files and more.

Another common area where performance can impact the user experience is when outside factors come into play. While users are often quick to blame the app itself, the true culprit may be a third-party software development kit (SDK) or a network issue. Either way, the end result is the same: the user loses interest and moves on.

The Cost of User Churn

While it can be difficult to measure the true cost of user churn across different industries and app categories, on average it’s estimated that it costs $8.21 to acquire a new user willing to create an account. That cost goes up to $64.96 to acquire a user who will make a purchase.

Conversely, every user a company loses costs them at least that much, in terms of what is required to replace that user. For users who may have abandoned an app due to a bad experience, that cost may be even higher.

As alarming as that may be, studies show the true cost of user churn is greatly multiplied when taking into account all the potential variables.

For example:

  • It costs anywhere from 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
  • A mere 5% reduction in user churn can increase profitability by 75%.
  • A developer has a 60-70% chance of selling to +an existing customer, versus a mere 5-20% chance to a potential customer.
  • Developers who improve customer retention often see 2-4 times greater impact on growth.

The evidence is clear: While most developers recognize the importance of gaining users, successful developers understand that the key to improving their app’s return on investment (ROI) is to deliver the stability, reliably and performance needed to keep users coming back and paying for existing—as well as future—services.

The Big Picture

When taken together, these factors paint a sobering picture for app developers. In short, they have a limited amount of time to make a good first impression, immediately build value in the customer’s mind, avoid crashes, deliver performance and keep users coming back—all with one hand tied behind their back.

The hand tied behind their back comes into play when considering the tools and methods that most mobile developers are still using. While tools such as logging have served the desktop and Web application markets for decades, these types of optimization tools fall woefully short when addressing the needs of mobile developers.

For example, traditional logging and development tools only give mobile developers a small peek into what’s happening under the hood. While logs can provide some data into what’s happening, it’s often only in locations that developers already suspect are problematic. Similarly, while logging may offer a bit of insight into problems caused by third-party factors, it can rarely give the necessary insights to be able to address the problem.

Embrace a Better Option

Man sitting on a couch using his mobile phone.

Developers looking to improve their engagement with customers, deliver what customers really want, lower churn, improve retention and increase ROI need a new approach to mobile performance optimization.

The Embrace platform provides that approach by giving your developers a holistic view of your application. Instead of poring over log points that may or may not provide any valuable insight, you can look into each user session to see exactly what is happening.

Did a third-party SDK load too slow or fail to load properly? Did network congestion cause an unexpected slowdown when accessing outside resources? Did the app experience an OOM error? Perhaps, users are struggling to interact with an interface element, causing them to believe the app is unresponsive when the real solution is redesigning the element to be more accessible. These are details you can only put to good use if you can see everything that’s happening in your app.

As an industry leader in mobile performance optimization, the Embrace platform is designed to be that missing piece of the mobile developer’s toolkit. By using our platform, you can gain insights into your app’s operation you never thought possible. Not only can this help you address problems, but, even more importantly—given mobile customers’ high expectations—you can use those insights to resolve issues before your customers ever experience them, saving your app from the dreaded 1-star review.

Take Embrace for a test drive today and see exactly how it can revolutionize your mobile development strategy.


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