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Why is Apple mum on app deletion, usage rates?

Apple recently announced that more than 25 billion applications have been downloaded from its App Store. However, despite these significant achievements, the mobile community remains in the dark about how often users are coming back to apps, how much time they spend and how many apps they are deleting.

While developers can access analytics for their specific apps from Apple or Google and firms such as Flurry provide some aggregate data about app usage, aggregate user from Apple might help developers learn which segments are seeing more activity compared to others.

?Apple is a lifestyle brand,? said Brennan Hayden, vice president of WDA, East Lansing, MI. ?If Apple said the most downloads are for this or that category, it does not serve their interest because developers would start to segment that way.

?They would probably like to avoid comparative data that would allow marketers and developers to imply that one particular segment was ceded to the other based upon the numbers,? he said.

?It wants to feel like apps are equally for everyone.?

App growth
Marketers are living in an era when consumers spend more time in mobile apps than they do browsing the Web as they migrate traditional desktop behaviors such as going on Facebook to mobile devices.

The App Store was launched less than four years ago and has grown to include more than 550,000 apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users, pointing to the quick growth the mobile app marketplace.

The growth in mobile apps provides an opportunity for marketers to reach consumers in a meaningful, relevant way to increase brand awareness if they know how to do it.

App stores could help marketers and app developers reach consumers more effectively via apps by releasing user data.

?Aggregate statistics are of interest to developers who might want to decide what to develop but, the fact is that whoever you want to reach has a device or will soon and you can reach those people with an app,? Mr. Hayden said.

Apple already reports two important metrics: the amount of downloads and how much they have paid developers.

While everyone would like to have more data about app usage, there is not much benefit to Apple for revealing it. 

?They tell you how much they have paid developers and with that, we can estimate the market for paid apps since what they have paid developers is about thirty percent of the total,? said Mark Beccue, senior analyst at ABI Research, New York.

?It would be extremely valuable to have aggregate user data,? he said.

?They do share it with their developer community but do not see the need to share it with the world.?

App discovery
With Google app downloads growing at a fast pace these day, Apple may also not want to reveal any information that shows where its weaknesses are.

App developers already have detailed usage data on what is happening within their applications.

?While we do not know for sure, but it is likely that free downloads are growing at a faster pace on Android than iOS; it is unlikely on the paid side,? said Karl Stillner, CEO of Appolicious, Chicago.

?The biggest challenge of growing any app ecosystem at this point is discovery,? he said. ?As the number of apps and developers grows, Apple and every other ecosystem will have to provide new ways for consumers to discover relevant apps.

?If they do not do this, the economics for developers will worsen and there will be less of an incentive for new developers to enter or remain in the market.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York