Isadora Teich

09/30/2022
Philadelphia, PA
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The Biggest Reasons Why Mobile Apps Fail

Of course, you want to make the best app that you possibly can! While learning from successful apps is important, it is also critical to know what the common pitfalls are. You have to know why mobile apps fail.

Only then, can you avoid them.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons why mobile apps don’t succeed.

The Situation in 2022

It’s no secret that the mobile app industry is tough. It has boomed over the course of the pandemic too.

While more people are using apps than ever before, more entreprenuers and companies are also creating them.

According to Net Solutions:

By 2023, the projected revenue from mobile apps is around $935 billion; by 2024, people will have downloaded about 184 billion apps.

However, it is disingenous to say that apps are booming only because of the pandemic.
In the graphic below, you can see that there has been astounding growth since 2016, years before the threat of COVID19.

Why Mobile Apps Fail in a Booming Market

If the industry itself is booming with innovation, progress, and an astounding amount of capital, why do 99.5% of mobile apps fail?

This may not seem to make any sense, but we are here to help you make sense of it all!

Failure to Understand the Market Contributes to Why Mobile Apps Fail

This may seem like something incredibly basic, yet it is something that happens over and over and over again.

At ChopDawg, we encourage you to ask this one key question before moving forward with any app development project:

Who is this app for?

While app development, launch, and sale do involve complex technical skills, they also involve the same core practices and philosophy of any successful business or product.

If you would not open a brick-and-mortar store or train to provide a service that no one actually wants or needs, why would you approach the business of apps in this way?

In all types of businesses, passionate entrepreneurs fall into the trap of building something specifically for them, rather than for the customer.

With apps, just like with any other business, this approach can cost an entrepreneur hundreds of thousands of dollars if they can’t figure out how to connect with customers.

Taking It Back To Apps

When it comes specifically to apps, it is critical that you address these questions honestly from the beginning:

  • Does the app meet a fundamental need?
  • Does it solve a problem for users?
  • Does it offer something new?

If the answer to all of these questions is no, it is very unlikely that your app will succeed. Think about it, why would you download or keep using an app that doesn’t add any value to your life?

Understanding your audience and their needs is key.

Without the proper research, you could be dooming your app to irrelevance.

If you want to learn more about conducting market research, check out our blog post on the subject!

Remember, your audience will ultimately decide whether your app is a success or a failure. It is critical that you not only understand what their needs are, but listen closely and respond appropriately.

The Death Knell of Technical Issues

In the world of apps, some divide them into two categories:

  • Supplement Apps: These streamline and simplify our daily tasks (banking apps, planner apps, etc)
  • Painkiller Apps: Which are not necessary, but generate some kind of engaging stimulus.

According to Peter Mezyk, the head of international app agency Nomtek:

“They typically generate a stimulus, which usually revolves around negative emotions such as loneliness or boredom.”

These would be apps like TikTok or Instagram.

We bring this up because your app cannot do either of these things effectively if it does not technically work.

According to Net Solutions:

This relates to the software-related issues that might have been ignored or not implemented to the best. If a feature slows down an App performance, creates an error-ridden experience, and causes frequent crashes, it is an overall poor user experience. Obsolete standards and methodology and below-par coding make the product unusable.

With so many apps available, if yours does not work correctly, users can easily move on to something else. This definitely contributes to the high failure rate of apps.

Common Causes of Technical Inefficiency In Apps

These big problems often lead to apps that are glitchy, not user-friendly, or fail to launch entirely.

Inexperience in Building or Leading a Technical Team is Often Why Mobile Apps Fail

Many non-technical entrepreneurs have attempted to build apps in-house, but have not actually known what goes into the process.

If you do not have the technical background to choose the right people, understand reasonable timelines, and manage a proper budget, there are so many potential pitfalls you could encounter.

For example, you may not actually hire people who have the skills you need for the job, because you don’t know how to properly vet them. This creates a frustrating, unproductive, and potentially expensive series of issues.

If you don’t know which timelines or budget is reasonable, you could end up with a poorly made app in a week that cost you almost nothing, but doesn’t work.

You could also end up pouring an entire fortune into an app that takes years of work but doesn’t result in anything.

This is why many non-technical entrepreneurs choose to outsource app development to a reputable agency from the start.

Feature Imbalance Leading to a Poor User Experience

If your app offers too much or too little, and no real way to monetize its offerings, it will not succeed.

Some great examples of this are Vine, TikTok, and Instagram.

Vine was a short-form video-sharing platform that skyrocketed in a matter of years to over 40 million users, but could not maintain that popularity.

For users, it offered no features except for point-and-shoot videos of several seconds. The company itself was riddled with problems and struggled to keep employees behind the scenes.

For even its biggest content creators, there was virtually no support and no real way to monetize their content. This is why many of Vine’s biggest content creators transitioned to YouTube.

A Post-Vine World

TikTok picked up where Vine left off by initially offering the same short-form video options. However, they updated it with countless music choices, fun filters, and other options to edit content.

The site itself has an algorithm that users love, shows ads between TikToks, and allows creators a few ways to earn money.

Instagram, on the other hand, is an excellent example of what happens when an app tries to do too much.

More is Not Always More

Instagram, which initially started as a photosharing social platform has now taken in the popular features of almost every other popular social platform.

It has Stories from Snapchat and Reels, which are its version of Tiktoks. Many feel that it is becoming cluttered with a confusing mess of feeds and shopping options. They also feel its algorithm is stifling and mostly shows you ads.

You can see here that Vine’s internal issues and inability to provide the proper features to support and entice users and creators caused it to fail.

Instagram is rapidly losing relevance with younger people by refusing to listen to users and doubling down on a series of unpopular decisions.

Meanwhile, TikTok seems to have struck the proper balance, at least for now.

Poor Backend Support

One huge misconception amongst app industry newbies is that the process of building an app ends at launch. This could not be more wrong!

Apps require regular updates, robust user support, and code that is easily accessible by developers in the case of bugs and other issues.

When it comes to gaming and e-commerce apps, this is especially important. Think about it, how many times have you heard of sites crashing on the launch day of a product because it couldn’t handle all of the visitors?

This is why backend support is absolutely critical. Again, if shoppers, gamers, or users can’t use your site and you can’t fix issues, they will quickly go somewhere else.

Final Thoughts on Why Mobile Apps Fail

While there are many reasons mobile apps can fail, the ones we’ve listed here are some of the most common.

What do you think? Do you have any other thoughts on why mobile apps might flop?

Comment below and let us know. We always love hearing from our readers!

Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.

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