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How Much Money Can Your Mobile App Make?

If you are thinking about making an app, more than likely one of the first questions you have is how much money can your mobile app make. Unless you are a developer who is working on something that is going to change the world for the better, for the most part people are making apps as a way to make money; hopefully lots of it!

So, after you launch that app, how long will it be until you can afford your first Ferrari?

Factors affecting app income

It actually isn’t that simple to give you a number. If I did it would be 56. Why 56? Why not! Not knowing anything about your app after all means I would basically be guessing and 56 seems about right.

Seriously however, there are a lot of factors that go into estimating revenue because apps come in all shapes and platforms:

  • Platform choice – The iOS platform routinely outperforms all others when it comes to developers getting paid. Based on numbers provided by Apple, just a little over 25% of their developers earn over $5,000 per month. For Android that number falls to 16% earning more than $5,000 per month. What about Blackberry or Windows? It’s better not to ask.
  • Type – Categories matter. Games are clearly the most profitable at a little over 2x average. Newsstand apps are also popular. In the middle are entertainment, sports, medical, navigation, social networking, news, music, and education which earn one-and-a-half of average down to two-thirds of average. Subpar apps that earn about two-thirds average and under include travel, weather, productivity, lifestyle, utilities, reference, photo and finance descending in that order.
  • Initial cost – Are you working with a free model or pay model? If so what is your price point? Some $0.99 apps have generated $100,000 in a month while a more functional but less fun app that costs $3.99 might only make $12,000 a month. Higher prices are only better if you have a market that will pay.
  • In app purchases – Candy Crush earned over $800,000 per day with in-app purchases. That is an astounding number that clearly demonstrates how not only games, but those with cheap but repetitive in app purchases can quickly boost revenue.
  • Premium models – While an app like Skype doesn’t always have the most impressive download numbers, usually in the lower half of the Top-50, what it does have is revenue of about $25,000 per day thanks to the premium model for subscribers. Those apps that provide continual services can really rake it in.
  • In app ads – These are tricky as it is hard to find useful statistics on ads, however marketing trends are clearly moving away from print mediums to digital and apps are an area ripe for taking advantage of marketing dollars. It is also a great way to promote new releases of other apps.
  • Marketing channel – Apps that are made to be an extension of a business might not generate any direct revenue, but that is not the point. The Bank of America or State Farm apps are examples of apps that improve the quality of interaction and service with customers of the business.

The answer is still 56

Why is it still 56 you ask? Simply put it is because apps are still very much a hit-or-miss prospect. You can look at similar products, perform serious market forecasting and run numbers for days, but the bottom line is that there is no proven formula that will let you know if your app will be popular which in turn is going to provide the opportunity to generate money.

However, like many of the articles we write, there are things you can do to increase those chances, much like giving yourself the best odds to win given the nature of the gamble.

In this case, while the Android platform is larger the iOS platform seems to be a safer starting point to develop an income stream. Next, replicate success by looking at other apps that have similar aspects and using their blueprint to help your own cause from mechanics to purchasing mechanisms. For example, Out Fit 7 Ltd. Are experts on in-app monetization as they are able to generate $1 per day for every 5 downloads consistently with the various games they produce.

Some developers are lucky to get 50 downloads in a day and make a few hundred dollars. While that isn’t bad if you can maintain it (that could be $6000 in a month), there is no guarantee that will happen as plenty of apps quickly taper off. The key to prevent that is having a strong marketing and promotion plan in place along with ideas for improvement if the first launch falls flat.

The bottom line

You need to have reasonable expectations. Not all games are going to be Candy Crush or Clash of Clans. Not all apps are going to be high demand subscriber providers. So the answer to how much money can your app make is somewhere between $0 and $167,984 per day with the average being around $0.45 per download, at least from Apple.

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