2022 App Stability Report: Driving Quality with Visibility
September 20, 2022

Michael Olechna

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Users today expect a seamless, uninterrupted experience when interacting with their web and mobile apps. Their expectations have continued to grow in tandem with their appetite for new features and consistent updates. Mobile apps have responded by increasing their release cadence by up to 40%, releasing a new full version of their app every 4-5 days, as determined in this year's SmartBear State of Software Quality | Application Stability Index report.

When examining last year's report, mobile apps were on average issuing a new release once a week, about once every seven days. To accommodate the market's new standard of faster releases, a growing number of mobile apps are adopting progressive delivery practices, like feature flags and experiments, to accelerate the release of new features while minimizing the risk of releasing new errors to their user base that would impact the stability of their applications.

Stability score measures the percentage of app sessions that are crash-free, providing visibility into app health as well as user experience. It can be thought of as a barometer of quality and quantity: the lower the number of errors in your app, the higher your stability score is and the quality of your app.

Overall, there is a continuing trend of increasing stability among web and mobile apps with the industry striving for five nines or 99.999% stability. In last year's report, mobile apps had a median stability score of 99.80%. In the 2020 report, the last direct comparison of web and mobile app stability score, mobile apps outscored web apps by a significant margin, 99.63% to 99.39%. Perhaps the most surprising finding of this year's report is the revelation web apps had a higher stability score, 99.94%, than their mobile counterparts score of 99.88%.

Diving deeper into the data provides some insight into why web app scores were much higher than in 2020 and against this year's mobile median score. The top two industries by stability score in the report were Media and Entertainment, 99.97% and e-commerce, 99.94%. Media and Entertainment had a strong web app presence, especially with the takeoff of streaming media in the past year. As many newcomers attempt to grow their users, it remains essential for them to provide an optimal, uninterrupted experience. Meanwhile, to retain their massive subscriber base against increased competition, streaming giants seek to strike a balance between delivering a seamless experience and consistently offering new features to enhance their application — across a range of devices.

On the other hand, perhaps no better example of the link between stability and revenue can be thought of than e-commerce applications. The last moment any organization wants their app to crash is during the checkout process. As worldwide e-commerce revenue expects to climb past $5.5 trillion in 2022, one can assume there is a lot of money in customers' carts when they arrive at checkout. Giving customers a smooth experience is paramount, as crashes directly impact revenue.

These two industries provide a model that the lowest scoring industries in the report can learn from. As in previous reports, Gaming was the lowest scoring industry at 99.60%, with the widest range of score distribution between apps. Health and Wellness did not fare much better, scoring the second-lowest at 99.71%. The low stability score of Health and Wellness combined with its median release cadence of every other day and the widest release distribution of all industries demonstrates a balance must be reached between roadmap agility and app stability.

With the user experience becoming increasingly dominant to app success, app stability has evolved into application observability as the need for visibility into software releases has grown. Perhaps most importantly, we're learning that visibility into app stability is key for innovating quickly and delivering apps with speed and confidence.

Michael Olechna is Product Marketing Manager at SmartBear
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