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Ways to make money with mobile apps: what is the best option?

07/17/2012 -by:Silvina Moschini , CEO & Founder, Intuic | The Social Media Agency

It is generally believed to be more difficult to make money with mobile apps than on the traditional web. However, apps can bring profit, and there are different ways to do it.


A mobile app can be based on a good idea, work well and be chosen by many users. But in mobile marketing, this does not automatically translate into profit. If the application is free and has no advertising, it will hardly generate income by its users. However, there are various ways of making money with apps with some not charging for services. 

When making money with an application, one option is through paid downloads. This option has its pros and cons. On one hand, it can work; in fact, a Nielsen report reveals that users are increasingly willing to pay for downloads when they find something of value in them. Nevertheless, on the other hand, the market is very competitive. If you compete against free software, you can hardly do much to become users’ choice. That is why it is advantageous to evaluate ways of monetizing apps without charging users for downloads. 

One option of keeping an application free and at the same time making money is through sales within the application. You can charge for extra services or for selling virtual goods, a business model that is booming. For example, Facebook has apps that sell gifts to friends. Another option that works well is selling accessories or extra weapons in games. Apps like Angry Birds, for example, offer extra tools that help pass levels and cost real money. Users tend to buy content within apps. According to the PlaySpan study, one in three players spends real money on virtual purchases.

You can also consider an alternative of getting a sponsor. While this option does not usually bring money, it can help keeping an application in the market for its further development. In addition, the name of the sponsor can generate customers’ confidence and attract them to using the application. 

Finally, there is an option of selling advertising space. The more downloads an application has and the more known it becomes, the more you can charge for advertising. Thus, in many cases advertising can generate more profits than selling an application, as free downloads will probably attract more users.

These forms of getting income do not exclude each other. Some free apps show advertisements that are removed by purchasing a premium membership, for example. You can also sell virtual goods within paid apps, and selling virtual goods can coexist with advertising. 

In conclusion, each developer should evaluate which method of making money is best for his needs, depending on the audience for an application, its function and expectations for growth. For example, it is easier to sell goods within the gaming application, and in Apps with its segmented audience, it can be easier to get advertisers. If you offer a quality program that brings some value to its users, finding ways to monetize it should not be difficult.