Feature Article

October 31, 2012

What Triggers a Bad App Review? Apigee Finds Out

There are thousands of apps out there, covering a wide variety of topics and representing an equally wide variety of makers. But what makes an app bad enough for users to give it a bad review?

Apigee, a company that develops Application Programming Interfaces (API), sponsored a survey that ran most of October to find out just what it was that triggered the hammer of a bad app – and the results are in.

The survey, conducted by uSamp and covering over 500 individual mobile app users age 18 and up, ran down the most common causes of a bad app review. There were several triggers that appeared to be universal, with 76 percent of respondents saying the app freezing on them would trigger the bad review, while 71 percent cited crashes. Fifty-nine percent would drop the hammer for slow responsiveness, 55 would do it for the app taking more than its share of battery life, and 53 would do it if they felt the app just had too many ads included.

Fully 96 percent of respondents would give a bad review if they felt the situation warranted such a response, and this number should give app developers pause.

Most respondents – 98 percent – were insistent on one point: the value of good performance. Performance was vital in most apps, though just which kinds of apps put the greatest stress on good performance varied. Seventy-four percent topped out in banking apps, and 63 percent called it for maps.

Mobile payment apps had 55 percent supporting performance above all, while mobile shopping carried 49 percent. Games and social media were the lowest scorers in terms of the importance of good performance, but still carried sizable numbers with 44 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

Should performance not be up to par, 99 percent would take action.

This is where app makers should be most concerned. Of the near totality of users who would take action in response to a poor performer, 44 percent would delete the app right away. Thirty-eight would delete the app if it froze for more than 30 seconds at a clip. Thirty-two percent would then tell their friends, colleagues or anyone else about how bad that app was.

Just over one in five – 21 percent – would then take to social networking to warn others, and 18 percent would go so far as to delete an app that froze for just five seconds.

The survey even offered hope for those who made a poor-performing app. Just under 90 percent said the best course of action was to fix the problem, and quickly. Sixty-five percent wanted better performance in the refund process, while 49 percent wanted quick access to a customer service number.

Forty-six percent wanted some kind of personal response, while 21 percent would want the developer to fall on its sword with a public apology.

For app makers, this makes the situation quite clear – test apps. Test them extensively, test them to destruction, find the holes and patch them up before release. App buyers have little patience for poorly-working apps and will strike out aggressively in many cases to poison the well to future potential buyers in the event of a bad experience.

Quality of experience is every bit as important as what the app itself does, as this survey underscores. While some may balk at the survey size – 500 users is not a particularly large sample – the results are telling enough to make quality of experience important to every developer.

Edited by Braden Becker

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