Which Apps Make Money? Targeting Your Mobile App Projects

It can be hard as a new mobile app agency to know whether your mobile apps will make you any money. The market is heaving with nearly every kind of app you can imagine and that number is only increasing daily. As a developer it can quite daunting to look at the biggest apps on the market and know that they are raking in millions a week whilst you can barely cover the cost of development with your own work.

It may sound harsh, but it could be that you’re just not making apps that people want to buy.

But we’re not talking about your mobile apps being poor quality, we’re talking about your mobile apps not being in a category or having a feature set that is useful to many customers because you don’t know what ones people want, and by extension, what mobile apps are more likely to make money.

Luckily, Vision Mobile have recently done a survey of what apps make money and, helpfully, laid it all out for us to see.

So first things first:

Solo mobile app developers earn less than those with clients

The image of a lone coder slaving away over his laptop long into the night putting the finishing touches to an app that promise to shake up the mobile app development world and in so doing earn him a tidy packet to retire early on may be a romantic one but it’s also a fairly unrealistic one.

The numbers don’t lie; a solo coder working on their own project earns on average 30% less than an employed or commission based coder. So if you’re in app development for the money or want to make it your full time earner, it’s a safe bet to say that looking around for clients to build apps for is a good way to secure a much higher income.

As a comparison, the average solo coder will earn maybe $900 a month from apps, whereas the same average client based coder will earn on average just over $3000.

What mobile apps make most money?

If you’re working for commission, RealEstate and Banking and Finance mobile apps are the highest earners, pulling in roughly $1000 more per month than the next highest earner of Education.

In a more general sense of what mobile apps make money through their own revenues rather than being paid by clients, communication and social networking are the dominant forces. Mobile apps like Skype and WhatsApp are generating – on average – 20% more money per app month than the second highest earner of health and fitness apps.

Effort pays

There is also a clear  indication that the longer you spend developing an app, the higher its potential revenue stream.

There is a massive jump from the average earnings from an app that was worked on for a month and an app that had up to 3 months spent on it of nearly five times more. That then doubles for mobile apps with up to 6 months spent on them and then nearly doubles again for apps with up to 12 months spent on them, with these apps on average earning $5,400 per app month compared to just $484 per app month if only 30 days are spent on development.

This effort = reward remains across both platforms, but iOS has noticeably higher top end average earnings for developers.

But effort doesn’t stop when you ship your mobile app. In fact some say that’s when the hard work starts. You may be lucky and the mobile app is simply an instant viral success, but for most mobile apps it will require good old fashioned hard graft. You’ll have to work hard to drive and optimize mobile app downloads, and make sure you maximize the engagement (and monetization) of those who download.

Around 60% of downloaded apps come from in-store searches. So making sure you have a strong app store optimization strategy in place will make a huge difference to driving good numbers of relevant mobile app downloads.

Around 70% of app downloads never become engaged users. That’s a huge waste in download acquisition effort. So if you have good Engagement Optimization strategies, that at the core will include push notification programs, you stand a good chance of growing highly active (and there valuable) mobile app users.

So avoid a “build it and they will come” mindset, success will come if your idea is strong, as long as you work on making your mobile app a success.

Location is also important

In this instance, it will probably surprise very few of you to learn that customers in the US are the most willing to pay for mobile apps, with China currently being the least likely out of China, India, UK and US. This disparity is most likely to do with the lack of smartphone penetration in China, and also the fact that it is only very recently that middle class Chinese have had enough disposable income to buy smartphones and the apps that they have on them.

It will be interesting to see if the order of countries looks the same at the end of the year, but for now the US is the place to target if you want a higher likelihood of customers buying your mobile apps.

As always though, no matter where you are on the app development ladder, any way to save a little time and money is something to pay attention to, and we at Kumulos (BaaS) pride ourselves on being able to do just that for app developers. Our Mobile Backend as a Service platform is designed with developers in mind and it’s there for you to use for the very manageable price and you don’t even pay anything until after your app has launched.

Sound good? Why not sign up for a free trial today and give Kumulos a spin.