Where Have All the App Users Gone?

Read Time: 5 min

Each year at Localytics, we take a deep dive into our data to examine the number of users who stay engaged with apps in the months following the initial download. We were disappointed, but not surprised, to see that as time goes on, apps are losing more and more users. This is further proof that brands have a long way to go to stay in the hands of the ever-changing customer or risk falling victim to the Mobile Engagement Crisis.

Apps are falling short in providing the types of high-quality experiences that users have come to expect. Though mobile remains the mode for interacting with many brands, brands just aren’t pulling their weight. As a result, users are churning at an increasing rate.

Since our last annual update, average retention has dropped from 42% to 37% one month after download. By the third month, the amount of users who have churned has risen from 75% to 80%.


Average Retention & Churn for All Apps



Average Retention and Churn by Industry


Looking at the data by industry, we found that Media & Entertainment apps have the highest retention across the first three months after a user downloads - keeping 40% of users coming back for more in the first month alone. This comes as no surprise, as the introduction of both web and mobile apps has lead to changing desires in the way your audience consumes music, information, video/television and news.

Gaming apps on the other hand continue to struggle to keep users around (bad news for Pokemon Go), showing the lowest average retention in the first three months after the app is downloaded.


Average Retention and Churn For High Performing Apps by Industry


There is a distinct difference between high performing apps and the overall average when it comes to retention. These are well-known and trusted apps who have grown their user base to large numbers.

Travel and Lifestyle apps especially have been able to establish themselves in their industry and keep a large number of their users around in the three subsequent months after download. A recent TripAdvisor study found that 42% of travelers worldwide use smartphones to plan or book their trips, so if travel apps wish to remain successful in retaining users, it’s up to them to continue developing personalized campaigns designed for different user segments.



Localytics is the leading mobile engagement platform across more than 2.7 billion devices and 37,000 mobile and web apps. Localytics processes 120 billion data points monthly. Localytics used retention cohort analysis to examine the number of users who were still engaged with the app 30, 60, and 90 days after download. High performing apps are defined as apps with over 1 million MAUs. The timeframe for this study was June 2015-June 2016.