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First we had discovery, and now we've discovery and habit. That has been onenotable trend in the app economy over the past year or so:the growing attention to user retention and engagement.As start-up mentor and “behavior engineer” Nir Eyal explains inhis blog, the tech industry’s current top dogma, viral growth, will bring only short-livedsuccess if the company that achieves it fails to turn itself into a widespread habit.

Firms that sell consumer goods and services have always taken advantage of habitual behavior, but what is new and even exciting (I'dalso accept 'potentially creepy')is that the emergence of big dataand the increasing digitization of consumption give them much more sophisticated toolsfor doing it.Thiswidely cited articlein NY Times demonstrates rather well why this is the case.

In apps, one of the most imaginative strategies I’ve come across in this field is what is being employed by RedLynx, a game developer. The company’s iOS title 1000 Heroz hasn’t been found among the top-ranked games when we track the platform’s apps in different countries, but at the same time it has built itself a reputation of having a very loyal user base. This has been achieved through its rather unique value proposition: RedLynx enhances the game with a whole new level and a character every single day, over a period of 1,000days. The gaming experience also involves global leaderboards for each day, as well as customized leaderboards to connect and compete with friends.

Those 1,000daily updates obviously can’t offer too much variety, after all, but as an engagement strategy 1000 Heroz is nonetheless an interesting experiment. It tries to combine frequently and regularly released new content with a social dimension (leaderboards), which arguably are among the three most important qualities for an app to drive engagement. This way of doing things wouldn’t necessary work for all in all app categories (take for instance utility, medical, and navigation apps), but for lighter segments such as games and entertainment it seems like a good fit.

That third quality, then? I would agree with findings by MTV Networks in that ease of use, or accessibility, is still the most decisive one. The window of opportunity to convert an app downloader to a frequent user is notably small, and apps that don’t feel accessible on the first try are seldom given a second chance, let alone a third. This means that in the app business less is normally more. The apps that really impress usually don’t do many tricks, but the ones that they do, they do remarkably well.​

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