Of the many things that developers need to worry about when attempting to create a successful app, two points rise to the top. First, the app can't crash, and second, it has to respond to user input quickly. This is easier said than done, however, thanks to a deck that's stacked against developers. Crittercism spent a month collecting over 1 billion data points and determined which devices, operating systems, and networks best lead to stable - and profitable - apps.
To put things into perspective, Crittercism claims there are about 2,582 different devices (smartphones and tablets) available to consumers that run 106 different operating systems and access the internet via 691 different wireless networks. Each one of these factors plays a role in determining how apps perform.
For starters, tablets are less stable than smartphones across the board, whether the hardware is running Android or iOS. Older iPads and Android tablets are far more prone to seeing app crashes than any other type of device. Samsung makes the most stable Android hardware (smartphones and tablets), and the iPhone 5 is the most stable Apple product. These bits of hardware are running a wide array of mobile operating systems, and its the combination that plays the biggest role.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the least stable modern operating system - at least as far as app crashes are concerned. Apps run a crash rate of 1.7% in Gingerbread, but fare better, just 0.7%, in Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat. These more modern versions of Android are all more stable than the most stable version of Apple's iOS. Apple recently pushed iOS 7.1 out to iPhone and iPad owners, and its crash rate is 1.6%. Older versions of iOS don't fare so well. For example, iOS 7.0 has a crash rate of 2.1% and iOS 6 has a crash rate of 2.5%.
Some app categories are more stable than others. If you've written a game or other app that makes intense use of graphics, video, and audio APIs, you're app is much more likely to crash. Games have a crash rate of 4.4%, by far the worst. Writers of e-commerce apps have it easier. Mobile banking and similar apps have a crash rate of just 0.4%. E-commerce apps may be the most stable, but they cost the developer a lot more money when they are down.
Let's not forget about the wireless networks and how they perform around the world. Crittercism determined that apps respond the quickest across networks in Canada, Japan, and the US. They are a little bit slower in China, Australia, and Europe, but Crittercism still classified app speeds in these regions as "relatively quick." Where aren't apps quick enough? In the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa app response times across wireless networks are markedly slower. India has the slowest app performance.
Why does all this matter? Consumers ditch apps that crash or are slow. If your app crashes a lot and is somewhat sluggish, don't expect to make any money from it. Crittercism says developers should target app uptimes of 99% and apps that respond in 1 second or less. The problem is developers can't do anything about OS stability and wireless network performance. Even so, the more fine-tuning developers can do to circumvent these hurdles, the better they can expect their apps to perform, and the more money they can make.
The full results can be found in Crittercism's recently published its Mobile Experience Benchmark Report.