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Poor Retention Rates Make tvOS a Tough Platform for Developers

Less than nine percent of users return to a tvOS seven days after installing it, a recent report explains
tvOS App Store
June 9, 2016

Developers are facing a touch deal when creating content for the Apple TV, and its native operating system, tvOS. Poor retention rates mean users aren't likely to return to an app on their Apple TV seven days after installing it, meaning developers have one big chance to create a lasting impression and encourage users to return to their software.

The news comes from app analytics firm Adjust (via PocketGamer), and the data collected by the firm is staggering. According to Adjust, less than nine percent of users return to a tvOS application seven days after first installing it. On the iPhone, this figure rises to 18.5 percent, and on the iPad, it stands even higher at 20 percent. The Apple TV, then, is proving to be a really tough market for developers to crack; it's a lot easier for developers to get their hooks into a user on iOS.

Adjust CEO Christian Henschel said, “These are apps that are some of the best platformers on phones and tablets, yet when the apps are brought to Apple TV – just like tvOS was meant to – they fall flat.” Because of this, the CEO questions whether developers are going to stick with tvOS as a platform, or if the Apple TV's already-small developer community is going to abandon the product.

It's a difficult situation, and one which concerns the nature of the Apple TV as a platform. I find it hard to situate this data within my own experience of owning an Apple TV; I don't play games on iOS, and so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that I don't play games on tvOS, either. But even if I did, I'm not sure I'd use the Apple TV for gaming – especially since it's only switched on at communal times, and used as a shared device.

I use Apple TV apps from content providers like Netflix and the BBC, and that's about it. I also stream content from my iOS devices to the Apple TV using AirPlay. Although tvOS was built to accomodate native apps, including games, I can't see myself ever being interested in gaming on the set-top box. And so it doesn't surprise me too much that games aren't doing well on the platform.

I guess, at the minute, the Apple TV isn't as much of an “app environment” as iPhones or iPads are for users. I'm far less likely to need to try new applications on tvOS; instead, I have apps linked with my various content subscriptions, and I keep on returning to those. Yet this could change over the course of WWDC, during which Apple is expected to bolster the tvOS platform with a second major release.

How are you using the Apple TV – are you a gamer, do you download and regularly use a bunch of different apps, or are you like me: someone who streams Netflix, and that's about it? Let us know, and be sure to check back with us on Monday for all of Apple's keynote news.