How do you define an active user?

mocoNews reports today on Nokia’s positive growth in “active” Services users, yet also reveals a dirty little secret about about how companies claim to count who’s active.

But this is only a small silver lining to a bigger cloud: the company counts as active users every consumer who has used a service just once over the last six months. And considering that there are an estimated 1.1 billion Nokia (NYSE: NOK) users worldwide today, this is a far cry from critical mass.

Nokia is far from alone in how they report numbers like this. It’s obvious why companies do this – it makes things look better. But it’s total BS.  There’s likely to be a considerably amount of float in this calculation for users who trial and never return … consider the services bundled with new devices as an easy example.  Try Maps with Navigation for that 7-10 day trial but then never use it again.  For at least half the year that batch of new sales considerably bumps the base figure and if you continue to push out bundled “solutions” you can game the services figures.  I doubt that’s really the intent and I’m not trying to be completely harsh, but come on this is just BS!

I can’t imagine building a relationship with people who use your product an average of  twice a year.  Good luck with that retention plan …

3 comments for “How do you define an active user?

  1. 1/7/2010 at 1:50 pm

    “we define an active user as one who has used our service once in six months”

  2. 1/7/2010 at 1:53 pm

    credit where it's due!

  3. 1/7/2010 at 2:41 pm

    I'm interested to know if 6 months is a standard throughout the industry, or if there *is* a standard at all?

    Also, I think it varies on the type of service that's being discussed. For instance, an 'Active User' on something like Twitter or Foursquare would likely need to visit *much* more frequently than say, Ovi Maps or Ovi Files, IMO.

    Either way, I agree with you, once in 6 months is hardly what I would call 'active'.

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