When it comes to mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, performance does matter. Most mobile app users in the U.S. say that if an app frustrates them, they'll give it a bad review. Scott Forstall, the executive in charge of Apple's mobile software efforts until this morning (Oct. 30), knows firsthand what bad reviews can do for a career.
According to Apple insiders, consumer complaints about the company's new mobile maps service were in large measure responsible for Forstall’s departure. The app was developed on his watch.
Mobile app users tend to be an unforgiving lot, according to a survey of over 500 American mobile app users sponsored by Apigee, a company that helps companies manage application programming interfaces for mobile apps. Ninety-nine percent of users say there are frustrations that would lead them to give an app a bad review, ranging from freezes (76 percent) and crashes (71 percent) to slow responsiveness (59 percent) and heavy battery usage (53 percent).
Respondents were nearly universal (98 percent) in stressing that performance matters, particularly for banking apps (74 percent) , followed by maps (63 percent) and mobile payments (55 percent), the survey found.
Across the board, 99 percent of users said they would take action when apps don't perform as expected or advertised. Nearly half (44 percent) said they would immediately delete the app. Nearly as many (38 percent) said they would delete an app if it freezes for longer than 30 seconds; particularly harsh respondents (18 percent) said they would immediately delete a app if it froze for as little as five seconds.
Mobile app users do recognize that problems will arise, however, and gave some insight into how companies can make amends when that happens. Mobile app users overwhelmingly (89 percent) say the No. 1 thing companies can do is fix the problem quickly, followed by providing easy refunds (65 percent), providing a customer service number (49 percent), giving the user a personal response (46 percent) and making a public apology (21 percent).
Forstall balked at signing such an apology for the flawed Apple mobile maps service, according to people with knowledge of the events.
"In the growing app economy, there's a natural Darwinian effect, and only the best apps will survive," said Chet Kapoor, Apigee CEO. "These survey findings underscore the importance for developers to closely monitor app performance, identify problems quickly and react immediately to resolve them."
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