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According to a new survey conducted by MTV Networks (MTVN), a whopping 83% of mobile app users say they're addicted to their apps. For obvious reasons, that's good news for companies participating in the still-rapidly growing app economies built around Apple iOS and Google Android.

But of course, not all apps are successful. In fact, another new study shows that nearly a third of the Android apps released on Android Market have disappeared.

So how can companies make their apps more addictive, reducing the likelihood that they'll eventually have to kick them to the curb? Here are five tips.

Provide fresh content.

Quality content that is useful and/or entertaining is in high demand, but you can't let the content your app provides become stale. Just as a blog that's updated once a month probably won't see tons of repeat traffic, an app whose content isn't refreshed and expanded on a regular basis is far more likely to be forgotten about or uninstalled entirely.

In fact, MTVN's survey found that lack of fresh content is one of the biggest reasons content-driven apps get deleted.

Add game mechanics.

Just because you're not building a game doesn't mean that components typically found in games (eg. points, leaderboards, easter eggs, etc.) can't have a place in your app.

In many cases, with a little creativity, ample opportunity to apply some game mechanics can be produced, resulting in more engaging apps that keep users coming back for more.

Tap into user-generated content and the social graph.

In many cases, mobile phones are an extension of their owners, and there's no reason apps can't be too. Whether it's integrating with Facebook or taking advantage of on-phone hardware (eg. the camera), there is no shortage of ways to give your users ways to personalize your app and make it a part of their social experiences.

Social, in particular, can be key. Highlighting this, 39% of those surveyed by MTVN said that they'd continued to use a gaming app because their friends continued to use it too.

Notify, notify, notify.

Both iOS and Android allow apps to generate notifications. While you shouldn't abuse this functionality, lest your app become a pest that is quickly uninstalled, notifications can provide an effective means for your app to remind users that it still exists.


Many consumers stay connected to the internet via their mobiles, but mobile interactions aren't like their desktop web counterparts. Not only can complex interactions be difficult to build on a mobile device, they're often not desirable to users on the go.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that ease of use was one of the most important factors to mobile gamers surveyed by MTVN, serving as a reminder that keeping things simple reduces the risk that users will be driven away by an experience that is confusing or cumbersome.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 June, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)


George Derry

Great post. A particularly interesting point was adding game mechanics. Gamification was quite a hot topic in 2011 and will probably grow in potency for a lot of app developers as mobile technology develops.

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