Video apps see a staggering 61% shorter sessions with poor signal

Anne Freer | May 16, 2023

App Business

When mobile users experience poor connectivity or unreliable WiFi networks, it significantly impacts their app usage and overall experience. Inadequate mobile connectivity leads to users spending 20% less time in each app session, while the impact is even more severe at 38% less time with poor WiFi. That’s according to new research from OpenSignal. 

It’s all about connection

Consistent exposure to subpar connectivity for seven days was found to result in a staggering 49% lower app retention rate among users, highlighting the critical role that reliable connectivity plays in user engagement and app retention. 

According to data provided by Opensignal, approximately 29% of mobile app sessions are affected by a poor signal, while 11% of app sessions experience similar issues when connected to WiFi networks.

The consequences are user frustrations and inconvenience. But it also affects app revenues, as most apps rely on monetization strategies such as in-app purchases or advertising. 

Smartphone users spending 20% less time in apps with poor connectivity

Source: OpenSignal

In order to generate revenue, apps need to retain users and encourage them to continue using the app over time. However, when users face persistent connectivity issues, their dissatisfaction grows, leading to a decline in app usage.

Shorter app sessions 

Smartphone users suffer from a lousy cellular signal in nearly one-third of their app sessions. This translates to app sessions with active data transfers being 20% shorter. It also results in fewer opportunities to display ads to users, thereby hampering app revenues. 

Moreover, when users spend less time within apps, they’re more inclined to cancel their paid subscriptions or uninstall the app altogether. The situation worsens on WiFi networks, with app session durations plummeting by a staggering 38% during the 11% of time characterized by a poor WiFi signal.

Emerging technologies will increase the need for reliable connections even further. 

Video is most affected

The impact of poor connectivity on app session length is substantial across various app categories, affecting both cellular and WiFi connections. Video Players experience the most significant drop, with sessions being 61% shorter on mobile and almost identical at 60% shorter on WiFi when encountering a poor signal. 

Several other categories also witness significant decreases in app usage when faced with poor connectivity, including Lifestyle, Navigation, News & Magazines, Education, and Shopping.

Video Player apps experience the highest increase in uninstall rates, with a staggering 31% more uninstalls occurring when users encounter a poor signal on the first day. This is followed by News & Magazines apps, which see a 24% increase in uninstall rates, and Lifestyle apps, which experience a 23% higher likelihood of being uninstalled under similar connectivity conditions.

Poor connectivity leads to drop in time spent in apps

Source: OpenSignal

Poor signal equals poor retention

When comparing app retention rates between instances of poor and good signal, an intriguing pattern emerges. On the first day, app retention is already 16% worse for users experiencing poor signal compared to those with good signal. This disparity can be attributed to reduced app usage due to connectivity issues.

However, the gap in app retention rates widens as time progresses. By day three, the difference in retention rates between users with poor signal and good signal reaches 41%. This indicates that users with poor connectivity are significantly more likely to discontinue app usage or even uninstall the app altogether over time.

Day seven mobile retention rate drops

Source: OpenSignal

The impact of poor connectivity on app retention becomes even more pronounced by day seven, with mobile app retention plummeting by 49% for users facing poor signal. 

App developers and service providers must prioritize addressing connectivity challenges to maintain long-term user retention and maximize the value of their apps.

Key takeaways

  • Poor connectivity leads to 20% less app usage, affecting user engagement and potential revenue
  • Video players experience a drastic 61% shorter session time with poor signal
  • Users with poor connectivity have a 49% lower app retention rate by day seven

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