App Longevity: The Apps People Keep, Delete, and Forget About

By: Sid

Curb, go90, CCBW, HomeAway—what do these terms have in common? If you guessed “they’re apps on our phones, but we don’t know what they do or how they got there,” you’d be right. And according to our survey, we’re not alone: Plenty of people keep apps on their phones that they don’t use.

We surveyed 2,000 people nationwide about their relationships with their smartphone apps. Of the respondents, 63 percent keep apps on their phones that they don’t use. Of those people, one in three has between three and five unused apps on their phone. (We’re excluding default apps.) The interesting thing is, these respondents also admit that they consciously don’t use these apps.

Almost half of respondents—47 percent—claimed to download apps a few times a month. About a quarter, 27 percent, of respondents claimed a slightly higher frequency, admitting to downloading multiple times a week. Only 14 percent of respondents fessed up to app downloading every day or every other day.

The most popular apps to download—and thus, some of the most popular apps to consciously ignore—are apps for social media, followed by communication, news and entertainment, shopping, and banking and finance. Fitness, productivity, and artificial-intelligence apps are also downloaded at high rates.

Some people, though, go further than just downloading WhatsApp and then ignoring it in perpetuity. Some people—specifically, millennials—are taking action. Millennials delete apps at over three times the rate of baby boomers. Fitness apps, productivity apps, artificial-intelligence apps, and shopping apps are some of the most deleted.

It is notable that shopping apps rate highly on both lists: the most downloaded and the most deleted.

Over half of our respondents (54 percent) claim to delete apps at about the same rate that they download them: a few times monthly. Many respondents, though, 31 percent of them, only delete apps here and there. And just 3 percent delete daily. Oh, what a rush those decisive deleters must feel.

According to our respondents, the most popular reason for deleting an app is simple: They need the space on their phones. The second-most popular reason for app deletion is similar—to reduce clutter—and the third-most popular reason is arguably the most intuitive: People delete their apps because they’re bored with them.

Only 3 percent of people surveyed said the number-one reason they delete apps is because they’re worried about stolen data or data tracking.

In the course of this survey we discovered a unique type of app relationship: the re-download. As it happens, some people, with some regularity, re-download apps they’ve deleted. In fact, 31 percent of our respondents say that, a few times a month, they re-download previously deleted apps. Only 1 percent of respondents say they do this daily or every other day.

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