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EveryMe Vibhu Norby has only 5 percent active users

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The brutal truth is mobile apps are hard: not even necessarily 5% active users, but a lot less. Wow this is brutal.

"Let me share with you some rough numbers from our mobile-first startup. Out of 300,000+ downloads and 250,000 unique website visitors, 200,000 people have signed up. So right away, chop off 60% of your audience whom are just window-shopping. As an aside, I have heard privately from an app maker with a 100m+ downloads that 50% of people don’t even open their app after downloading. And that’s not counting people who can’t find your app in the store or decide not to download it after seeing your app rating (4.5 stars, in our case).

We used to have a screen where users could input their phone numbers and emails to help other users find them better. Out of 200,000, chop off 25% who don’t have the patience for that or are scared that we will sell their phone number. We also used to have a social network sign-in screen to automatically create groups for our users. Another 25% don’t want to sign-in to a social network, don’t see the skip button, or get bored by this time. We have since removed those two steps, but it took us a while to get there because we had to re-engineer how onboarding worked.

So that takes our original 550,000 eyeballs + people to 100,000 users. Now that the user is in our app and has an account, we want them to create a group and add their friends or family to the group. 25% of users won’t create a group and another 25% won’t add anybody to the group they created. Now we need them to share something to those people. Then the people they share with need to see the value, understand what is going on, and go through most of the steps above.

At best, we retain 5% of users through the entire onboarding process. Attempts to fix it have raised it only nominally. We are not alone on that count even amongst apps with much better onboarding and many more app versions than our own. Mobile screens are too small to show more than one step at a time."

Engagement on mobile is hard.

Besides Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, do you know any mobile social apps that have a lot of engaged users?

 Wedding Planning apps.

They come and go in fads. Instagram seems to be a constant. In fact, in deleting apps to keep my device to one screen, I found that FB and Instagram were the only apps I needed --- at all -- to keep besides Apple's apps. That and Kindle.

The sad truth is, people mostly use mobile apps when they are bored/idle, and only the ones with a strong community are worth the time to keep for months. Everything else comes and goes.

I suspect this is why people watch so much TV; your idevice or Android device can only keep you entertained for so long, but at the end of the day content is king. 

And there are two royal families: 

professional content and relational content; YouTube exists in this nether, but even YouTube is highly specific. One may go there for say a Minecraft videos or the like, but how many actually sit and just browse YouTube as they watch TV? 

Path made a great attempt. But I think Sarah Lacy is right; Instagram is what Path wants to be:

The useful mobile apps will be highly specific; are you a doctor? or a law student? or a couple with a baby? or an immigrant trying to learn a country's native language....

but does this surprise us? i suspect use on the "web" as opposed to native mobile apps is also similar.  

websites suffice for a majority of people, outside niche markets. 

 Matt beat me to it: something highly specific: "wedding planning apps" that are useful for a certain and specific amount of time...

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