While Google Play and App store provides free application downloads to their respective users, the question which follows is, ‘How do free apps make money?’

Statista presents detailed research which reads that:

  • Google Play store has around 94.24% of free applications and about 5.76% of paid applications combining gaming and utility applications for its users
  • Apple App store has approximately 88.18% of free apps for its users and roughly 11.82% of paid applications for utility and gaming.

The next question here is how developers and companies actually make money through such apps

The parameters which constitute the cost to build an app include:

☛ App genre

This shall specify whether a particular app has been designed for games, business, utility, education, lifestyle, social media, or other related categories for the target users.

☛ Operating systems or platforms

The next factor which shall derive the cost of an application is whether it’s built for Google Play or App store. Also, whether the application supports Windows or the web also matters for deriving the cost involved.

☛ The app design

The design of the app whether it is a template or a prototype for users also shall matter. App design includes factors also like individual and premium which means that either the application shall be free of cost or should be paid for.

☛ App pages

The pages involved in developing a particular app also derive the cost involved in developing or creating an app. Generally, there is a single page which is involved in the application which may vary on the type and genre of the application.

☛ Type of the app

The next parameter which is involved in deriving the cost of the app is its type. This means whether the particular app in question shall be a native app for a particular operating system or a hybrid app which can function over all platforms.

This is also an important factor while a developer shall create an app.

☛ Supporting versions

The versions that the app shall support are also necessary while building an app and deriving the cost involved. The cost involved in developing a basic version shall be lesser than that of an advanced version.

☛ Database and ERP

Just like other factors, the SQL and Oracle to be used for creating android apps that pay you money or free apps are also essential as they form the skeleton of the mobile application to be published on the particular app store.

☛ Customer Relationship Software

The software which shall manage all the data of the customers or clients is also important. Software such as Salesforce or Zoho needs to be deployed for the same and paid for, which forms an additional cost in building up the CRM for the app.

☛ Application Programming Interface and CMS

Angular, NodeJS and Ruby are the software which commonly solves the problems of the API and content management systems in a way that the application runs smoothly and the cost involved in the same are covered through earn money apps.

☛ Integration towards e-commerce and payment interface

The reward points or coupons for discounts to be used on the next purchase are some examples of integration towards e-commerce. The payment interface shall involve Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, GooglePay, etc. for enabling in-app payments or through any such valid purchases.

☛ Use of analytics

When the question of how to design an app is fulfilled, the use of analytics or metrics to monitor the performance of the same is also necessary, and therefore services such as Google Analytics or any other such services should be included. These services attract a particular cost.

☛ User interface and additional features

The logging into the application, feedback and reviews, settings for privacy, visual and audio enhancements, artificial intelligence, and many such features form the user interface and additional features in a way that more users download and use the application. Such factors also attract a cost that needs to be covered through in one way or the other.

These costs can be covered through three simple methods:

1. Monthly or annual subscription

There are some utility apps on either Google Play or the App store which involve additional discounts if annual membership or a subscription is opted for by the users. Some of these apps may constantly advertise for a subscription with free gifts or rewards. Such are some of the marketing ways of earning money and getting the costs covered which are involved in building a certain app.

Also, such subscriptions either shall come in a monthly or an annual mode for the ease of its users who can choose to subscribe to the services provided by the app according to their convenience.

2. In-app advertisements

There are advertisements that may be viewed by the users or canceled by clicking on the cross in the top right-hand corner of the screen. The application charges the vendor whose advertisements need to be floated in the application and the vendor shall earn when the users of the other apps download and use its services through the advertisements floated. There is also the question of how much money per view also arises here.

Gaming applications have promoted such a feature creatively to promote viewing the advertisements in such a way that its users cannot deny.


For gaining extra lives on a gaming level, there is a feature of watching a particular video for enabling the same. A similar feature is also available for earning extra coins in the game.

3. Purchases inside the app

The purchases which shall be made inside the app to either buy extra rewards or lives or coins in utility as well as gaming apps shall describe in-app purchases in the best possible manner. This feature is embedded mostly in free applications where the source of income is limited and the costs incurred are large.


In a mobile app like Google Pay where there are rewards to be given in the form of cash-backs and the services are mainly supported by the banks, the additional earning capacity is limited. In such cases, there is an option of buying rewards or coupons and utilizing them. The same is also applicable for gaming as well as other utility apps which support such a feature.

The actual cost involved in developing a mobile app which can be earned through the below techniques:

✍ A simple app

According to Think Mobiles, it has been calculated that an approximate of 400 hours shall be consumed for developing a simple app and the cost may differ from roughly $50 to $100 which shall amount from around $20,000 to about $40,000.

✍ Medium or moderate apps

The same research also reads that for developing a medium level of mobile application about 500 to 800 hours may be consumed which may amount from around $40,000 to approximately $80,000 calculated at around $50 and $100 respectively.

✍ High level or complex

Also, for building a high level or complex mobile application it shall consume about 800 to 1500 hours for developing the same. The cost involved in developing the same shall measure from around an approx value of $75,000 to $150,000 as per the estimates of $50 and $100.

The platform that makes most of the money:

While deciding on the best app to make money it is also necessary to throw some light on the operating system or the platform that shall contribute to revenue or profit in the long run.

Build Fire has researched the fact that among the iOS developers, about 25% are earning around $5,000 on a monthly basis. In comparison to such a number, about 16% of Android developers square off their position at an estimate of $5,000 in a similar way.

But, such information is not adequate or enough to judge the effectiveness of a certain platform.

Hence, further research by the same source reads that

  • The market share for Android ranges up to an approximately of 71.6%
  • iOS stands at a position of 19.6% even though a larger chunk is earning
  • An 8.8% is the estimated number which is contributed by other competitive operating systems or platforms

Hence, it can be derived that Android is the platform or the operating system that earns more than any other competing platform.

Their further is a paradox to such a conclusion based on the shopping experience of Android and iOS users.

  • 21% of iOS users are estimated to use shopping applications as compared to a rough estimate of 18.5% for Android.
  • iOS users also amount to about 30% for shopping most of the time as compared to around 28.9% of Android.
  • For of times around 25.7% of Android users prefer shopping on their mobile gadgets as compared to about 24.4% of iOS users.
  • Also, a rough estimate of 26.8% and 23.8% of users for Android and iOS respectively shall never use shopping apps on their gadgets.

The following are some of the best money making apps for an operating system like Android

☛ Amazon

This particular app is a free app but earns through the products and services provided. The similar can range from around $0.99 per sale or about a monthly income of $39.99.

☛ eBay

The next in rank is the pioneer in e-commerce applications which is actually a free app and makes its earnings through the goods and products sold.

☛ Etsy

This particular app specializes in selling and supplying craft supplies for art and do-it-yourself projects. It is a free app and also makes its earnings through sales of stationery.

Apart from these, there are also apps for iOS which are making money and profits

☛ iPoll

This is a survey app and is free for iOS users. Further, on completion of surveys or polls, it rewards the users with cash amounting from approximately of $1 to $10.

☛ Mercari

The virtual version of a typical garage sale where all old items can be sold in such a way that new things can be bought is powered by Mercari. This is a free application for iOS users.

☛ Swagbucks

This is yet another surveying app which rewards its users for solving surveys or watching videos online. However, it is a free app for iOS users.


The amount of money which can be earned through mobile apps is comparatively higher than a brick and mortar establishment and web application. Also, some of the apps to earn money are mentioned which have helped in earning revenues.

A research indicates the fact that the mobile app revenue worldwide shall scale up to around $188.9 billion and hence it is suggested to build an app.