Investigating country differences in mobile app user behavior and challenges for software engineering

Soo Ling Lim, Peter J. Bentley, Natalie Kanakam, Fuyuki Ishikawa, Shinichi Honiden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile applications (apps) are software developed for use on mobile devices and made available through app stores. App stores are highly competitive markets where developers need to cater to a large number of users spanning multiple countries. This work hypothesizes that there exist country differences in mobile app user behavior and conducts one of the largest surveys to date of app users across the world, in order to identify the precise nature of those differences. The survey investigated user adoption of the app store concept, app needs, and rationale for selecting or abandoning an app. We collected data from more than 15 countries, including USA, China, Japan, Germany, France, Brazil, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, India, Canada, Spain, Australia, Mexico, and South Korea. Analysis of data provided by 4,824 participants showed significant differences in app user behaviors across countries, for example users from USA are more likely to download medical apps, users from the United Kingdom and Canada are more likely to be influenced by price, users from Japan and Australia are less likely to rate apps. Analysis of the results revealed new challenges to market-driven software engineering related to packaging requirements, feature space, quality expectations, app store dependency, price sensitivity, and ecosystem effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6913003
Pages (from-to)40-64
Number of pages25
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • App user behavior
  • Market-driven software engineering
  • Mobile application development
  • Requirements/specifications
  • Software ecosystems
  • Software product lines
  • Survey research
  • User requirements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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