The mobile app market is constantly growing. As a result, the competition is becoming considerably more fierce, and while as a rule the major app outlets pocket 30% of an app’s gross revenue, there’s still a lot of money to be made in mobile apps. Developers are must go beyond their software skills to understand the vagaries of the mobile app market in order to be successful, and the pricing of a particular mobile app, it turns out, is one of the key factors in determining its success or failure. Over the next three weeks we’ll be taking a look at how developers should approach pricing for their mobile apps before they release them in the store.
The first decision you’ll have to make is whether to charge a fixed fee for your mobile app or make it free to download. You need to bear in mind that a consumer’s thought process is fundamentally different when faced with the choice of downloading a free app versus downloading a paid app. When users are sitting in a Starbucks browsing through an app store, they will rarely (if ever) take into consideration the fact that they can download five or six paid apps and still shell out less than the cost of their latté. What they do ask themselves when considering the purchase of a paid app is, “Do I really need this?”
For free-to-download apps, on the other hand, that question never even comes up. While desktop users are generally (and correctly) wary of downloading anything free for fear that their computers will be clogged up with useless toolbars and malware, the mobile app ecosystem is steadily trending to a point where the free mobile app is the rule rather than the exception. This isn’t to suggest that the free download is the best way to go in all circumstances, however. If your app is sophisticated, useful, well received, and well reviewed, charging for it can potentially be very lucrative and generate a higher level of customer loyalty. Next week we’ll take a look at more specific considerations for developers who prefer to charge for their apps.