App Marketing

How are tvOS apps doing so far?

Simon Kendall
Head of Communications

Ahead of Apple’s WWDC next week, we wanted to take a look at some of the latest topics on the Apple side of mobile. There were a few different topics we looked into - watches and other wearables, for example; emerging Health & Fitness apps; or even different payment solutions on the platform.

In the end, we wound up taking a look at tvOS, Apple’s new platform for the Apple TV. tvOS is sufficiently similar to iOS that our regular SDK can be implemented into the platform without any significant modification. So we had a small sample of apps reporting data to us that we could take a peek at.

Here’s what we found: Apple TV users are not engaging with apps on the platform.

Only 8.9 percent of users return to a tvOS app seven days after installing it, compared to nearly 20 percent on tablets and 18.5 percent on smartphones. After 30 days, an app developer can only expect to retain 4.1 percent of acquired users, greatly diminishing the ability of app developers to earn a profit from in-app purchases or advertising.

In total, we sampled 299,925 users. Around two percent had been active on an Apple TV device, so about 5,000 users. That’s definitely enough to be statistically significant. This sample only included apps that had been ported from iOS to the Apple TV, comparing the app’s performance on TV versus phones or tablets. It’s important to note that only three different apps contributed user behaviour to the sample. So while the results are significant, they aren’t necessarily predictive across different verticals and concepts.

But then, we cross-checked the iOS performance of these apps against the Mobile Benchmarks - and found that they were all well within the upper area of the third quartile in terms of retention performance. In other wors, these are some of the best performers on phones and tablets.

Yet when they’re ported to tvOS, users just aren’t coming back.

What does this mean for WWDC? Well, if tvOS continues to underperform, that’s not an attractive bet for a mobile developer. We’d expect that there needs to be fundamental improvements to the platform in order to attract more developers and more users.