I like my app but I wanna try yours: exploring user switching from a learning perspective

Jie Gu (Institute of Information, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai, China)
Xiaolun Wang (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China)
Tian Lu (Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Publication date: 2 October 2019



The purpose of this paper is to explain the “good-to-good” app switching phenomenon that has not been specifically addressed in the prior switching literature. Drawing on the consumer learning theory, this study explores how external social word of mouth (WOM) and internal satisfaction influence app users’ switching intention through social learning route and analogical learning route. This study also examines the moderating effect of app heterogeneity.


An online survey was used to collect data. Two categories of mobile apps with different levels of within-category heterogeneity were targeted in survey questions. A total of 525 valid survey responses were collected.


Social WOM about a competing app increases users’ switching intention through both social norm influence and social information influence, resulting in a direct effect on switching intention and an indirect effect through the perceived attractiveness of a competing app. Users’ satisfaction with an adopted app positively influences the perceived attractiveness of an unadopted competing app, offering evidence for analogical learning in user switching. Meanwhile, users’ satisfaction imposes a direct negative effect on switching intention. A higher level of within-category heterogeneity strengthens (weakens) the positive effect of social WOM (satisfaction) on users’ perceived attractiveness of a competing app.


This study complements the existing switching literature by disentangling the “good-to-good” switching phenomenon in the mobile app market from the consumer learning perspective. This study extends the understanding of cross-category user switching by considering different levels of product heterogeneity.



This work is a part of the research project (Grant Nos 71702103 and 71531006) supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). The data collection process was financially funded by (NSFC Grant Nos 71702103 and 71802108) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 30918013104). The project investigator for Set-up Funds in Nanjing University of Science and Technology (Grant No. AE89955) is one of the authors for this study. The author Gu Jie is also supported by China Scholarship Council (No. 201808310040) as a visiting scholar in National University of Singapore.


Gu, J., Wang, X. and Lu, T. (2019), "I like my app but I wanna try yours: exploring user switching from a learning perspective", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-07-2018-0310

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