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Analysis of SDK Install Lengths and Churn Rates - A Case Study by MightySignal

Analysis of SDK Install Lengths and Churn Rates - A Case Study by MightySignal

A question we’ve frequently heard from our clients is: How long are most SDKs installed?

We had the data to discover the answer, but it wasn’t something we typically calculated.

However, understanding how long a SDK is installed on an app can help SDK developers focus on market research and expectations for their product, ultimately assisting them in achieving their development goals.  Having a good idea of how long SDKs are installed, or “install length”, allows developers to have a ballpark idea of when their client apps might be looking for new SDKs of a certain category, pinpoint when their SDK may be uninstalled, and determine ways to increase their own product install length - and therefore, revenue. Flipping that metric around, we can also calculate a “churn rate” for any given SDK, which is based on the install length.  

To crunch these numbers, we investigated 1,000 randomly selected SDKs and 200 of the top SDKs from Android and iOS to find out the overall average install length for each platform, and answer further questions about the factors that affect install length. Here are our findings:

1,000 Random SDKs

Currently MightySignal’s database includes around 38 million Android and iOS SDK events which represent installations and uninstallations on apps. Initially, to most efficiently analyze install lengths, we took a random sample of 500 SDKs from each platform and calculated how long each SDK was installed on an app.  Notably, we excluded SDK/app pairs where the SDK was still installed.  

A sample size of 500 SDKs per platform provided us with a 95% confidence level and 4.5% margin of error, allowing us to come up with average install lengths fairly representative of the many SDKs we track. However, there was huge diversity in the datathe standard deviation in average install length was 358 days for Android and 378 days for iOS. In other words, the standard deviation was about 76% and 84% of Android and iOS average install lengths, respectively. 

With this in mind, the following results are indicative of averages across the board, but it’s important to note that there is a large range of variation.

Platform

We found that the average install length for SDKs on Android and iOS differed by just over 3 weeks, with Android at an average install length of 472 days and iOS at 450 days.  This gap could be due to a variety of platform-dependent factors such as different app designs and marketing strategies tailored for separate app stores.

Random SDK Install Length by Platform

SDK Category

Broken down by SDK category, each platform’s longest-installed SDK categories varied, with “OCR” (Optical Character Recognition) taking 4th longest-installed for both platforms.

Random Android SDK Install Length by SDK Category

Random iOS SDK Install Length by SDK Category

Android Top 5 SDK Categories by Install Length:

  1. User Engagement – 656 days
  2. Social – 608 days
  3. Media – 572 days
  4. OCR – 553 days
  5. UI – 536 days

iOS Top 5 SDK Categories by Install Length:

  1. VoIP –  711 days
  2. Backend – 643 days
  3. Customer Support – 627 days
  4. OCR – 593 days
  5. App Platform – 587 days

Last but not least, specialized categories such as “A/B Testing”, “Beacon”, “Deep Linking”, and “VPN” SDKs had the lowest install lengths, all installed on average for less than a year.  Surprisingly, categories such as “User Engagement” and “UI”—which top the Android SDKs in install length—found themselves at the lower end of the spectrum for iOS SDKs.  This further confirms that apps on each platform have different needs, but also suggests the SDKs available on each platform could face separate challenges of competition that drive SDK install lengths down or up.

App Category

Looking at app category, apps with the category “News & Magazines” and “Medical” had the longest SDK install lengths across Android and iOS, although the rest of the top app categories again fluctuated by platform.

Random Android SDK Install Length by App Category

Random iOS SDK Install Length by App Category

Android Top 5 App Categories by Install Length:

  1. News & Magazines – 543 days
  2. Sports – 529 days
  3. Books & Reference – 526 days
  4. Travel & Local – 511 days
  5. Lifestyle – 511 days

iOS Top 5 App Categories by Install Length:

  1. Developer Tools – 668 days
  2. Weather – 609 days
  3. Magazines & Newspapers – 559 days
  4. Medical – 533 days
  5. News – 526 days

User Base

Coming to app user base, Android favored longer installation for SDKs installed on apps with “Weak” and “Moderate” user bases, while iOS had longer SDK installation for apps of “Strong” and “Elite” user base.

Random Android SDK Install Length by User Base

Random iOS SDK Install Length by User Base

Mobile Priority

Finally, examining app mobile priority revealed similarity between the platforms, with both platforms’ SDKs being installed longest on apps with a “Medium” mobile priority.

Random Android SDK Install Length by Mobile Priority

Random iOS SDK Install Length by Mobile Priority

Top 200 SDKs

For this portion we completed the same analysis on 200 more SDKs, taking the top 100 SDKs in terms of apps installations from each platform.  Comparing to the results of the 1,000 Random SDKs, we found SDK categories, app categories, and mobile priority rankings to have varied, with user base order remaining unchanged save for the average values.

Platform

The SDKs for iOS had a longer average install length than Android, the opposite trend of what we saw with the 1,000 Random SDKs.  Android had an average install length of 443 days while iOS’ was 517 days, resulting in a gap of about 2 and a half weeks.  While iOS’ install length increased by 67 days from the Random SDKs, Android’s decreased by 29 days.  Calculating standard deviation, Android’s standard deviation was 78% of the average install length and iOS’ was 83%.  Like our 1,000 Random SDKs data, the platform with higher average install length had a higher standard deviation by percentage.  Once again the high standard deviations provide a reminder that the averages we present below are just that—averages, with the data itself having large variation.

Top SDK Install Length by Platform

SDK Category

Most of the top Android SDK categories remained the same (“User Engagement”, “Social”, “OCR”, and “UI”) with the addition of “Ad Attribution” and “Deep Linking”, with the latter formerly placing nearly last in the Random SDKs.  “Backend” continued as one of the longest-installed iOS SDK categories, with several of the top categories from the Random SDKs not present in the Top 100 SDKs (“VoIP”, “Customer Support”, and “OCR”).

Top Android SDK Install Length by SDK Category

Top iOS SDK Install Length by SDK Category

Android Top 5 SDK Categories by Install Length:

  1. User Engagement – 699 days
  2. Social – 558 days
  3. Deep Linking – 524 days
  4. OCR – 522 days
  5. Ad Attribution – 506 days

iOS Top 5 SDK Categories by Install Length:install length:

  1. Backend –  644 days
  2. Authentication – 612 days
  3. App Performance – 599 days
  4. Utilities – 541 days
  5. Social – 541 days

On the low end of install length, “Media” was in the bottom 3 for both Android and iOS, with the rest of the lowest categories fluctuating from the Random SDKs.  The unpredictability of SDK categories across the data we collected shows that there’s no definitive answer for which category will be installed for the greatest or least amount of time.

App Category

Android app categories “Sports” and “Travel & Local” were once again a couple of the top 5 categories by install length, with “Weather” having leapt from the low end of the Random SDKs to the 2nd app category by SDK install length.  The app categories for iOS were largely the same as before, featuring “Developer Tools”, “Weather”, “Medical”, and “News” once more in the top categories.

Top Android SDK Install Length by App Category

Top iOS SDK Install Length by App Category

Android Top 5 App Categories by Install Length:

  1. News & Magazines – 512 days
  2. Weather – 498 days
  3. Lifestyle – 486 days
  4. Sports– 486 days
  5. Travel & Local – 475 days

iOS Top 5 App Categories by Install Length:

  1. Developer Tools – 724 days
  2. Weather – 689 days
  3. Medical – 593 days
  4. News – 583 days
  5. Finance – 583 days

For Android, “Art & Design” continued to have one of the shortest SDK install lengths, while iOS’ “Catalogs”, “Games”, and “Social Networking” also uninstalled SDKs more frequently than other apps.

User Base

User base for Android and iOS was consistent with the Random SDKs results, presenting near identical graphs.

Top Android SDK Install Length by User Base

Top iOS SDK Install Length by User Base

Mobile Priority

iOS mobile priority again displayed a comparable graph to the Random SDKs, while our top SDK analysis showed Android apps with a “Low” mobile priority had a longer install length than those with “Medium” priority.

Top Android SDK Install Length by Mobile Priority

Top iOS SDK Install Length by Mobile Priority

(Source Data Links)

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