Bugs: The Secret Killer to 5-Star Mobile App Reviews

February 24 2015

Mobile app reviews are vital to the success of your app, don't let annoying bugs ruin it. Read More

Bugs. Once upon a time – and not so very long ago – that word had only one meaning: annoying little critters that crawl, sting, bite, and can generally make your life a misery.

But in today’s modern technological age, the word bug has a new meaning: flaws in software applications. Though the word is the same, the two meanings are quite different. However, both terms represent a common theme: annoyances.

Bugs can wreak havocOptimized-iStock_000013467170_Small

The little bugs that infect computer code may not have wiped out millions of human lives – at least not yet (a computer bug reportedly nearly triggered World War III in the 1980s). But software errors certainly have caused deaths on a smaller scale through incidents such as aviation, traffic, and medical accidents.

For the most part, though, death isn’t a likely consequence of bugs infesting the code of modern apps. But other forms of devastation? Absolutely. In a recent study we conducted with IDC, we found downtime costs Fortune 1000 companies between $1.25 billion and $2.5 billion every year. (Interested in the full report, click here)

There’s also NASA, whose $327 million Mars Climate Orbiter disintegrated entering orbit around the Red Planet, the result of a coding error. Or check with Intel, they released an entire line CPUs in the 1990s containing a bug that caused an arithmetic error. Lots of red faces and an epic PR fail in addition to the cost in cash.

The point of these examples is to show no matter how small the issue, the results can be catastrophic.

When bad news can be good news

Sure, it’s bad to have bugs and issues in your application, however, they’re nearly unavoidable. Your home may be spotless, pristine, and clean as clean can be. Even so, there are bugs in your home. You can count on it. Same goes for the computer code your developers craft to power your app. It’ll contain bugs.

You can turn the bad news into good news by finding those bugs during the development process. Solving the most critical issues in the development and QA process is imperative.

However, once in production, it’s vital to be able to monitor your application and react accordingly to performance issues. In the same IDC report mentioned above, we found 13 percent of application failures last more than a full day. Doesn’t sound that terrifying until you realize the hourly cost of these downtimes ranges from $500,000 to $1 million PER HOUR.

The half-life of bad app reviews

Nowhere in the world is a review so prominent and vital to success as in mobile apps. Imagine if before you went to any restaurant you had to see their Yelp rating — it would probably affect your decision, right?

These aforementioned bugs now become nasty when they’re affecting your App Store rating. The success of your app hinges on this. In a different study we conducted with the University of London, we found 86% of users deleted an app after a poor performance (Read this report here). As we’ve been told countless times, “you never get a second chance at a first impression.”

What’s interesting, is the differences in tactics among the iOS App Store and Google Play. Since Google Play has fewer stringent rules on going live with an app — no intensive review process like the App Store — some independent developers can go live with their first iteration on their app and release new versions based on user feedback. However, they have this luxury because they’re independent devs and not major brands who’s image is reliant on a good product.

Major brands can’t simply iterate their product based on user feedback; they can’t afford that first wave of bad reviews. As a mobile evangelist, I’m constantly on the lookout for tools which can give me an insider’s perspective into my end-user’s behavior and how they’re using the app. These insights help me maintain a seamless app experience, react quickly to performance issues, and the most important part, preserve a good app store rating.

Interested to see how AppDynamics Mobile Real User Monitoring (RUM), can help you maintain your 5-star app? Download a FREE trial today!

Peter Kacandes
Peter has over 16 years in the tech industry, focusing on mobile applications. He's worked for top tech companies including Actuate, Sony Ericsson, Adobe, and Sun Microsystems.

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