Acquisition & Engagement

Install or Reinstall? 42% of Mobile App Installs Are Actually Reinstalls (And In Some Categories, It's 75%)

John Koetsier

Today TUNE is launching new technology to help mobile marketers understand one of the hidden secrets in the mobile app install ecosystem: a massive fraction of app installs are actually reinstalls. Those new downloads in your marketing dashboard? Many of them are actually re-downloads.

We’ve been testing and studying this phenomenon for six months while in development.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

  • in some app categories, reinstall percentages are as high as 75%
  • 98% of smartphone owners have reinstalled an app
  • search drives 65% of all app reinstall behavior
  • games are reinstalled 55% more frequently than non-game apps
  • large brands own 70% of the most-reinstalled apps on the iOS App Store

Get the full free report
App Reinstalls: A Sleeping Giant in Mobile User Acquisition


This is not just about cheap phones with limited storage in emerging markets. Germany is at 38%, Belgium at 40%, and Canada is at 34%. And in the United States, 27% of “new” app downloads are actually re-downloads.

Using new deterministic data straight from the iOS App Store and Google Play, TUNE is able to identify the proportion of people installing an app who have previously installed it, then deleted it, and subsequently have chosen to get the app again. We’ve also surveyed those people, and the reasons are not exactly what mobile experts would expect.

Get the full report for all the details, but here are some highlights of what we found.

Reinstalls Are About More Than Cheap Phones

The first question about the nature of reinstalls is obvious: Aren’t they simply the result of lower-end phones with insufficient memory that force users to delete apps for space, then reinstall them later when more space is available?

The answer is no.

Reinstalls make up almost 30% of all app downloads in North America, with Mexico at close to 40% reinstalls, Canada at 33.5%, and the United States at 27%.

In Europe, the Netherlands — a wealthy Western European country — has the region’s second-highest reinstall percentage at 45.4%. Belgium, Sweden, and Germany are all near the 40% line. It’s completely clear that the reinstall phenomenon is not just a byproduct of low-quality phones when you consider data from Asia. While Asia’s reinstall average is on the higher side at 39%, Japan is 40.3%, while India is 31.6%. China is the leader in reinstalls at 58.5%.

iOS and Android Reinstall Ratios Are Very Different

Proportionately, iOS apps are reinstalled more often than Android apps.

Out of our sample of 3.1 billion installs, 37% of Android installs were reinstalls, while 47% of iOS installs were reinstalls. Essentially, for every iOS fresh install there’s one reinstall, while on Android there is 0.6 of a reinstall for every fresh install.

Top Categories: Up to 75% of Installs Are Reinstalls

Some of the top app categories for reinstalls are predictable.

Travel, navigation, and transportation apps are near the top of the list for obvious reasons: You download that London subways app for your trip to London, then delete it. When you go back a year later, maybe you need it again.

Social networking is also high, mostly due to the influx of dating apps. When Mr. Right turns into Mr. Wrong, out comes the dating app again.

98% of Smartphone Owners Have Reinstalled an App

Almost everyone has reinstalled an app, with only 1.95% of respondents in a TapResearch poll telling us that they have never deleted an app and later reinstalled it.

Interestingly, 40% of smartphone owners reinstall an app regularly … either weekly or monthly. On the other hand, almost 50% of people surveyed say they very rarely reinstall apps.

72% Installed for Reasons Other Than Lack of Space

Contrary to popular mobile expert understanding, the biggest reason for uninstalling and then reinstalling an app is not limited space on low-end devices. In fact, the biggest reason is simply deciding to give the app another try.

While over 34% say that’s the main reason they reinstalled an app, the other categories are instructive as well:

  • 18% say they deleted an app because it was buggy, and they reinstalled to force a reset to a better-functioning app
  • 13% say they deleted an app that they later found out they needed … and therefore redownloaded it
  • 6% say they deleted an app by mistake, and had to reinstall it
  • 1% say there was a sale that required purchase via app, so they reinstalled it

Add it all up, and almost three quarters of reinstalls are not due to space issues.

The full report is available for free here.

 

 

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Author
John Koetsier

As Mobile Economist at TUNE, I forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I've been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile economy. Before joining TUNE, I built the VB Insight research team at VentureBeat and managed teams creating software for partners like Intel and Disney. In addition, I've led technical teams, built social sites and mobile apps, and consulted on mobile, social, and IoT. In 2014, I was named to Folio's top 100 of the media industry's "most innovative entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers.” I live in British Columbia, Canada with my family, where I coach baseball and hockey, though not at the same time.