How to interpret google play store rating?

Google play store is the worlds largest single app store with more than 3 Million active apps as on date. Android as everyone knows is the worlds largest mobile platform with share of more than 85% of the global mobile operating system market.

Now, the biggest challenge to the developers and also the end users are in understanding the Play Store rating.

What rating indicates a good app? As we all know Play store rating ranges between 1(Low) to 5 (Very good). With numbers between these range how to understand the better quality of the app?

Lets start with some statistics that Play store provides us.

First – Understand play store and applications available

Figure1-Percentage Wise App Distribution
App distribution based on their star ratings. – As on July 30, 2017

The above statistics gives a very high level understanding on app distribution in play store. It clearly indicates that almost 40% of the apps are never given any ratings. This means,

  1. The end user doesn’t really understand the app and never bothered to try this new app
  2. No enough promotion by the creators
  3. Too many apps are already solving the same use case
  4. Buggy app

Second – Clear classification on the low, medium and high rated apps

Figure2-High Level App Distribution
Average rating of play store apps

A quick statistics as above tells us that any app with rating 4.1 and more is a good quality rated app. But on the other hand almost 40% of the apps are never rated or tried by any end user. So deriving this way might not be a clear means to understand what rating and above means a good app.

Third – Download distribution with star ratings

Figure3-Download Distribution By Average App Ratings
Download distributions and their star ratings

From the star ratings based on the download distribution it is so evident the apps maintaining higher ratings with higher number of downloads are really the high quality apps. In that case the above statistics show that only 4% of the apps above 4.5 star ratings have more downloads. So all the apps which has more than 4.5 star ratings can not be directly considered for deriving the average star rating of apps in play store. This again might give some wrong conclusions.

Fourth – As download increases the ratings also should increase

Figure4-App Maturity
App maturity – Derived based on downloads and star ratings together

Finally, a derivation on the rating of the good rating app can be derived considering both the star ratings and number of downloads.

Key elements on this calculation –

  1. Higher star ratings from less downloaded apps should not be considered for deriving the average star ratings. Quantity of less downloaded apps should be low.
    • From step 3 – 3.5-4.0 star rating bucket has the less quantity of <500 downloaded apps
  2. Star ratings from more downloaded apps should be considered. No matter what the star ratings are.
    • From step 3 – 3.5-4.0 star rating bucket has the high quantity of >50,000 downloaded apps

The diagram in fourth step is derived by applying the above logic to the statistics in third step.

So as per my derivation any app with more than 3.5 are considered good quality trust worthy apps.

What does this number indicate for developers and users –

Developers

  1. More attention to be given to app if ratings are less than 3.5. Look for crash reporting. Understand user analytics.
  2. If your app rating is more than 3.5 find more ways to engage the user by promoting the app

User

  1. More than 3.5 star rating clearly indicates a trust worthy and useful app

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