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Published on June 8th, 2016 | by Kirk Hiner

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Analyst: Apple’s tvOS can’t keep people entertained

If there’s one thing mobile apps are good at, it’s forcing you to pay attention. Through push notifications, log-in incentives, social media integration and more, there’s no shortage of ways to make sure their app stays in front of your face, especially on a device you constantly have with you.

According to adjust—a mobile app analytics and attribution company—Apple TV developers haven’t been so fortunate. adjust released data today indicating only 8.9% of users return to a tvOS app seven days after installing it (by comparison, tablet and smartphone apps retain nearly 20% and 18.5% of their users, respectfully). The tvOS number drops to a mere 4.1% of acquired users after a month.

tvOS retention

From the release:

adjust’s analysis suggests that Apple TV users are not engaging with apps on the platform. Specifically, adjust measured the retention rate, defined as the percentage of users who return to an app a certain number of days after they installed it. The company sampled apps that had been ported from iOS to the Apple TV, comparing the app’s performance on TV versus phones or tablets. The apps sampled were benchmarked against the company’s Mobile Benchmark reports and found to typically fall within the upper area of the third quartile in terms of retention performance.

The sample included 299,925 users, of which around two percent had been active on an Apple TV device.

The conclusion adjust draws from this is that the greatly diminishing ability of app developers to earn a profit from in-app purchases or advertising will threaten developer interest in the platform.

That may be, but as an Apple TV, iPhone and iPad user, I don’t feel there’s much cause for alarm just yet. People use Apple TV and their iDevices differently. As I mentioned above, one (my iPhone) is a device I have with me all day long. I can fire up a quick gaming session at work, in line at the post office, when putting my son to bed, etc. Apple TV, on the other hand, is more like a gaming console. I have to go out of my way to play it, setting aside time to do so. So, if I’m going to play Heroki, for example, I have more opportunities to do so on a mobile device, even though I prefer to play it on the larger screen connected to the Apple TV.

I also view Apple TV as less of an impulse purchase platform. It’s easier to grab a free app and work around ads and IAPs on the iPhone. For Apple TV, I’d rather pay up front for my apps and not have to deal with that nonsense.

As adjust mentions in their report, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is just ahead, where we normally see OS improvements. adjust predicts Apple will unveil provide developers with better tools to make apps natively designed for the larger TV screen format, and become a bigger part of the living room. Games and apps developed specifically for a widescreen experience without the requirements of a touch interface could give users more incentive to head specifically to Apple TV.

“Apple meticulously measures the performance of their software and are fully aware of this issue,” said . Apps on tablets are already different experiences than on phones, and something similar needs to happen for the TV,” said Christian Henschel, CEO and Co-Founder of adjust. “Every platform struggles at the start. Still, it’s a make-or-break moment for Apple TV; are app developers going to be helped by Cupertino, or will they abandon the platform?”

A “make-or-break moment?” Again, I don’t think so. If Apple believes in a product—especially one they’re positioning to become a core piece of the Apple experience—they’ll allow it to stumble for a while before figuring out a way to help it catch on. The new and radically different tvOS isn’t even a year old yet, and it’s only usable on one iteration of the hardware. The company has time to make it work, and the huge number of Apple developers attending or at least tuning into WWDC, those breakthrough tvOS apps won’t be long in coming.

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About the Author

has been writing for the Apple web since 1997, having served as editor of Applelinks and the Technology Tell Apple Channel. He is also currently editor-in-chief of Public Access Gaming. Kirk lives with his wife and three children in small-town Ohio where the land is cheap and the air is (relatively) clean.



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