Investigating Country Differences in Mobile App User Behavior and Challenges for Software Engineering

Author(s): Soo Ling Lim, Peter J. Bentley, Natalie Kanakam, Fuyuki Ishikawa, and Shinichi Honiden
Venue: Transactions on Software Engineering
Date: JANUARY 2015

Type of Experiement: Survey/Multi-Case Study
Sample Size: 10208
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Data Collection Method: Survey


Understanding app user behaviors are very important when developing and marketing mobile apps. This study focuses on user behavior across app stores and phones across countries. They gave a questionnaire which asked users questions such as "their app needs, their rationale for selecting or abandoning an app, as well as the differences in user behaviors across countries."

As for app stores, Google Play had the most users at 39%. Then the iOS store at 22%, and Nokia Ovi store at 15%. The majority of users downloaded 2-5 apps per month and searched for them by keyword. The most popular reason for downloading an app was to be entertained, with performing a task second.

The biggest factors in downloading an app were 1. Price, 2. App features, 3. App description, and lastly, 4. reviews. Keeping an app installed is also important. Users were likely to uninstall apps of lower quality, which include constant advertisements and occasional crashes. Quality is a very important feature because 39% of users uninstall apps because they find a better one with the same features.

In terms of software engineering, "packaging requirements such as app description, title, keywords and screenshots play an important role in app discovery and download."

There were a lot of country differences when downloading apps and developers should be aware of these differences when creating and marketing apps. A couple examples include users from the UK and Canada are more likely to be influenced by price. United States users are more likely to download medical and weather apps. Users in China and Mexico are likely to rate apps, but not users in Japan.