Making Money with Apps

In today’s digital era, the app market is booming, and smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. With the increasing use of smartphones and the growing demand for mobile applications, there are significant opportunities to earn money through app development. However, to succeed in this competitive market, it is crucial to choose the right app monetization model that aligns with your app idea. In this article, we will explore various app monetization strategies to help you determine which one is the best fit for your app.

Can you make money with apps?

Smartphone usage is on the rise, and the app market is thriving. According to Simyo (2019), more than half of the Dutch population uses their smartphones in bed, and on average, we spend over two hours per day on our phones, which adds up to more than a month per year. This growing trend presents significant potential for app developers and entrepreneurs to tap into this expanding market and generate income.

Selling apps through app stores

Before delving into different app monetization models, it’s important to understand that app stores, such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, typically receive a 30% share of the selling price, while the remaining 70% goes to the app owner.

Different app monetization models

Now, let’s explore some of the most popular app monetization models available:

  1. Free Apps
    Although it may seem counterintuitive, free apps can hold significant value. Apps or platforms can serve as promotional tools for organizations, helping them showcase their products or services in an innovative way. By investing in app development, you can attract attention to your offerings and potentially generate additional revenue that offsets the app development costs.
  2. In-App Advertising
    Generating revenue through in-app advertising allows users to access your app for free while displaying advertisements. This model is commonly used in games, where ads appear between levels or as banners at the bottom of the screen. App owners earn a small fee for each ad view and click. The effectiveness of this model depends on striking a balance between user experience and advertising integration. Alternatively, you can offer users the option to remove ads by purchasing the premium version of the app.
  3. Paid Apps
    In the past, paid apps were a popular monetization model. However, the trend has shifted, and currently, only around 10% of apps require an upfront payment (Statista, 2020). Users are more inclined to pay for an app after trying it first. Despite the decline in popularity, some well-established brands or platforms still find success with this model. For instance, certain productivity or specialized apps may attract users who are willing to pay for their unique features or capabilities.
  4. Freemium Apps
    The freemium model allows users to download the app for free and offers additional features or content through in-app purchases. This model eliminates the barrier of upfront payment, making it more accessible and attracting a larger user base. Users have the flexibility to choose what they want to pay for, such as an ad-free version or extra functionalities. While some users may never make a purchase, their downloads still provide valuable data, analytics, ratings, and reviews that can drive feedback, insights, and organic growth.
  5. Subscriptions
    Subscriptions have become an integral part of our daily lives, with platforms like streaming services leading the way. With a subscription model, users pay a recurring fee at regular intervals, providing a steady revenue stream. This model is particularly suitable for apps that offer ongoing content, services, or exclusive features. App developers can offer different subscription tiers or packages to cater to varying user needs. The app store deducts a percentage of the subscription fee for the first year but reduces it afterward, incentivizing developers to retain users over the long term. The subscription model can also be combined with other monetization approaches, such as freemium models.

Determining the best app monetization model

Selecting the most suitable app monetization model depends on several factors, including your target audience, market size, and revenue generation potential. Developing a comprehensive business plan for your app idea will help you evaluate and identify the most effective monetization strategies. Conducting market research and understanding user preferences will play a vital role in making an informed decision.


Making money with apps is a realistic goal, but it requires careful consideration of the right app monetization model for your specific app idea. Whether it’s through selling apps, in-app advertising, paid apps, freemium models, or subscriptions, each approach has its own advantages and considerations. By understanding your target audience, analyzing market trends, and evaluating your app’s unique selling points, you can determine the most effective monetization strategy. Remember, the key to success lies in delivering value to your users while generating sustainable revenue for your app.