Loyalytics’ post on the stickiness of apps has got some wide coverage, way to go at promoting a churn reduction service. The headline: “First impressions matter! 26% of apps downloaded in 2010 were used just once” has popped up just about everywhere, with everyone and his dog chipping in tuppence worth of good advice for app developers.

I don’t think there’s that much to worry about in this metric in and of itself, a quarter of all apps are downloaded and opened once, so what? For content publishers the seemingly high rejection rate is not that unusual any more.

Now that our devices have gigabytes of storage space we’re suffering from a kind of collective syllogomania as we hoard apps, mp3s, TV shows, movies, books and magazines. I usually read two books every week – I start three or four, my unlistened playlist is always more than twenty-four hours long; over the last couple of years I’ve lost any hang-ups I ever had about deleting electronic files, whether I paid for them or not. I feel the same way about apps and I’m not alone.

However glib I might be about my own fickle consumption, there is a real issue here that developers need to address: why are their apps being discarded? Only the person doing the deleting knows the answer and nobody appears to be asking them the question. The app industry needs to improve the deletion process and get some feedback from happy scrappers like me.

One of the few features of Facebook that I rate at all highly is the way that the ads are presented. I can delete each ad and as I do so I am given an option to provide feedback, even a free-text box. I experimented with this text box not so long ago, explaining at some length that I’d marked my city of residence as Beijing, so there was no point in showing me ads based on a Florida locale just because I was tunneling through to a server in Miami to use the Internet. Lo and behold, about a week later I started to get ads for Beijing apartment rentals coming through. Well done Facebook, thanks for listening.

It should be obvious where I’m going with this. Right now, if I delete an app from my smartphone or tablet my only option is to provide a rating at that trashcan moment. Sure I could go into the app store and provide a review but generally, unless I’m overwhelmingly amazed or incredibly disappointed, that’s too much trouble. I’m far more likely to tell you what I think of your app if I’m allowed to casually speak my piece as I bin it. Don’t put me to extra trouble.

The feedback loop needs to be tighter and this can only come with support from the app store and/or OS owner. Whoever takes this leap of faith in closing the feedback loop will be on to a churn reducing winner.

Image: TiPb