Only about 20% of people who download a free application were using it the next day, Pinch Media found. Paid apps fared slightly better with nearly 30% of people still using the download.
Pinch Media, which provides iPhone developers with analytics on their applications, presented on Wednesday its findings on app use at the New York iPhone Developers Meetup. The findings, offered in a slide show on the company's Web site, were based on the monitoring of more than 30 million downloads.
In general, Pinch Media's analysis indicates that iPhone developers' applications will have to be immediately compelling to hold a user for any length of time. After 90 days, the percentage of people still using downloads hovers around 1%.
Applications related to sports are best at retaining users over the short term, while games are best over the long term, Pinch Media found.
For most developers considering ad-supported applications, Pinch Media advised taking the paid route instead. "Unless there's something inherent about the app that screams free, sell it," the firm said.
Pinch Media believes less than 5% of applications are suitable for advertising, and there's no way to know for sure until after the applications are launched.
In looking at the numbers, Pinch Media said a paid application returns at least 70 cents per user. For an ad-supported app to make the same amount of money, the developer would have to receive $8.75 per thousand clicks. However, today's advertising rates are typically 50 cents to $2 per thousand clicks.
"The typical application would have to bombard its users with ads to beat the money it'd make from paid sales," Pinch Media said.
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