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How Much Money Can You Make from an App in 2021?

Mobile App Development

The market of virtual technology is growing faster than the virus, so do mobile applications. Mobile app development is thriving day by day, every industry has already shifted to the mobile platform be it traveling or the oil and gas industry. The organizations that are left are transforming themselves and increasing their pace to shift on the virtual world to gain more customers and hence the business. 

Mobile app development is an easy and faster way to reach your customers and grow your business if you already have one. And if you’re planning to earn only through mobile applications without physically setting up your business that can also be achieved. The 21st century is all about the internet, virtual world and modern technologies so earning through applications is not at all tough, a little tricky but not difficult if you’re once set on the right path. This article is all about giving you a brief about the necessary steps that can help you to make money from mobile applications.

Table of Content
1. Tons of Mobile Apps, are All Making Money?
2. What is a Mobile App?
2.1 iOS vs Android – Which to Choose?
2.2 Dozens of Ideas and Categories – How to Decide?
3. Analysation, a Must Step
3.1 Target Audience
3.2 Market & Competitors
4. Focal Points, Making Money Should Be the End-Goal
5. Monetization Models
6. Cost of Developing an App
7. Tips If You’re Planning to Develop the Application Yourself
8. How Much Money Can You Make From an App?
9. Future of Mobile Application Development
10. Wrapping Up

Tons of Mobile Apps, are All Making Money? 

There are tons of mobile applications developed every year and as per ‘Forbes’ recent article, the total number of mobile applications collectively for both the Android and iOS platforms has reached 8.93 million in the year 2020. 

But the question is every single application from this 8.93 million making money? Is every idea good enough to keep the users hooked, and generating revenue? No, right. Every other business is shifting to the mobile platform from newspapers to cloth stores. But what really makes them stand out in the market depends on how well the application works without crashing or failing and with ease for the end-users. The revenue generated by the iOS app store alone in the year 2020 is 72.3 billion USD and the tidal revenue generated by both the application stores is 111 billion USD. As per recent research, Rakuten Rewards, the mobile and web app used for cashback and shopping rewards generated 13.14 billion USD in the year 2020, which was the highest last year. There are at least four dozen reward and cashback applications in the market doing the rounds but not all of them hit big like Rakuten. 

Having a great idea or a similar idea with a twist of new features can’t assure that the application will make money. Then what can? No matter what your idea is for the app, is it a unique one or similar to the already existing app that has hit big? It doesn’t matter, your application should be different, the idea can be the same, not the application. And your application should offer different and better features with greater functionalities to the end-users. 

What is a Mobile App?

A mobile application, more commonly called a mobile app, is a computer programme or software programme designed for mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and smartwatches. Mobile applications were primarily created to provide necessary help and productive services such as calendars, emails, and contacts, which are the things that people require on a regular basis. However, as the number of mobile phone users grows, so does the variety of mobile applications available, such as social media apps, mobile games, and so on. Nowadays, there are applications accessible for almost any purpose; if you want to track your steps, download the app; if you want to read books, don’t bother going to the store; you can read them on your app; all you have to do is download the app.

In fact, David Pouge, a well-known American technology pundit, and writer renamed smartphones as app phones to distinguish between early smartphones with fewer apps and modern-day phones with 10,000+ apps.

iOS vs Android – Which to Choose? 

iOS (iPhone operating system) is an operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. specifically for iPhones, allowing Apple to focus on the electronic devices rather than the compatibility of the operating system with hardware and other components. Though it was originally built for iPhones, it is now also used for other Apple mobile electronic devices such as the iPod Touch and prior iPad versions until 2012, when Apple introduced iPadOS, a dedicated operating system for the iPad.

Android is an open-source mobile Operating System developed by Adroid Inc. It was taken over by Google. It is built on a modified version of Linux and some other open-source software. At first, Android was solely meant for mobile applications development but now just like iOS, it is also being used for applications on wearable devices and smart TVs as well.

Both of the operating systems are amazing to develop an application on, but choosing the platform wisely is the key to the success of your mobile application. The platform you opt for your application has a huge influence on the earning of your app, because of the popularity of the platform, the number of smartphones that use the operating system, market shares, average number of end-users, etc. 

If we talk about the usage there is no doubt iOS takes only 29% of the market and Android scores this point with 71% of usage. Irrespective of the end-users gap, iOS apps still get 2.5 times more money from their users than Android. In terms of download, Android scores another point because the applications downloaded by Android users are double the iOS users.  iOS offers more money and Android offers wider coverage of the end-users and downloads. 

Both iOS and Android have their own pros and cons when it comes to making money and earning users, if you are starting on your own and want to hit big it’s better you first target the usage and gaining users you can go with Android and once you make enough you can develop an iOS mobile app as well. But if you have the resources and won’t mind investing a chunk you can go for both the platforms as well. 

Dozens of Ideas and Categories – How to Decide? 

Every business can be shifted to the mobile platform and every idea can be turned into a mobile app. There are 36 application categories on the Google Play Store for Android users to choose from and 26 categories available on the Apple App Store with tons of applications under each one of these categories. Hence, making sure about your app idea and researching the category it’ll fall into, is a must before you start daydreaming about making money from the app. 

As mentioned above any idea can be turned into an app so for example, if you’re far away from home, missing the stories your Nana or Granny used to tell you or can’t fall asleep at night because you are missing your mum’s lullaby, you can develop an app to feel better, simple. But is it? 

The first and utmost important step before talking about ‘how to make money from an app’ you need to analyse your idea. You get an idea and want to develop it, great. But what you need before jumping to development and monetization schemes is to ask yourself a few questions – 

  • Can it hit big?
  • What category did your app belong to? 
  • What is unique and different? 

Thinking and researching is the key to make it successful before jumping to development. Analyzation of the idea is a must, a few key points that I think can help you are – 

  • Is it unique? If it is, what steps will you follow for marketing except it’s been one of the kind? If not, what different functionalities and features can you offer to the end-users?
  • Deciding on the target audience is always a good step forward. 
  • Your idea should be accepted and well-suited to the target audience. 
  • Analysing the risk of developing an app that is similar to an already famous application. 

Deciding upon the idea and into which category your develop app will belong should go hand-in-hand. If you haven’t decided anything yet, the 4 most trending profitable categories to develop an app in 2021 are – 

  • Games with a revenue of 79.5 billion USD
  • Dating generating a revenue of 3.08 billion USD
  • Entertainment with a revenue turnover of 31.9 billion USD 
  • Health & Fitness earned 837 million USD last year 
  • Educational/eLearning with a revenue of 70.0 million USD.
Mobile App Development

But if you already have an idea of your own that falls in neither of the above categories then also it’s fine to go ahead with the development but obviously keeping the idea analysing and categorising technique in mind. For categorising your application you should start with your basic idea of the app and then take it up to the broader level. For example – you think about transforming the idea of lullabies to an app, you know what you want in your app, the features, functionalities, options for the end-users, etc. You started with the idea and now taking it to a broader level will help you in categorising it. You want your application to target only the children? If yes, then it’ll fall into ‘Parenting’ / ‘Kids’ (as per the operating system you opt for) and if you go for adults as your target audience you can put it into ‘Music & Audio’ / ‘Music’. If you’re planning to develop your app in such a way that it only contains soothing instrumental music then it falls under the category ‘Health & Fitness’. 

The key to categorising your app is the base idea itself and expanding its horizon as per the target end-users and features.

Analysation, a Must Step

Analysation of the idea only solves 30% of your purpose of making money through an app. It helps you to develop a better app with less risk of failure but it won’t guarantee you about earning money. To make sure your running application will not earn you not only users but also dollars, you need to analyse two other important factors. 

Target Audience

The first thing to research and analyse after scrutinizing and categorising your app idea should be your target audience. Outlining your target end-users should be your supreme concern because, in the end, they are the people who are going to bring revenue to your application. Will your app be only for people above 16 or will it be children friendly? Will you target your own country or plan to launch it globally and make money from the international market? These are a few questions you need to think through. 

You can’t decide your target audience only on the basis of the age group or location or area but you also have to consider the features you’re going to add or the functionalities or third-party services you’re going to integrate. Thinking wisely should be the only one because these are the people who’ll turn to be end-users and youtube players as well. 

Market & Competitors 

After deciding the target audience your idea for the app will be in far better shape and the next utmost important thing to consider to research and analyse for making money is the market for your app idea and your potential competitors. There are 2.5 million-plus mobile apps that exist on Google Play Store alone and 3 million on the Apple App Store. So, there are fair chances that your idea has already been transformed into someone else’s reality and earning big bucks. This must raise a doubt in your mind about your idea and you might be tempted to drop the idea altogether but it isn’t the solution. 

Dropping your idea shouldn’t be the option, instead, you need to analyse the market and your application’s potential competitors. You should work on the marketing strategy of your application so you can snake money through an app. And to plan the strategy you need to research and analyse your biggest competition, make a chart of all the similar features your app has, and what unique functionalities you can offer to your end-users. Working and modifying your app on the basis of the feedback and user reviews of your competitor will surely help you to gain an upper hand and a better footing in the market. 

Focal Points, Making Money Should Be the End-Goal

Applications are used by brands and businesses to reach their customers as well as other organisations and groups to reach their audience and even by individuals who want to hit big or are already rolling in dollars. There’s no doubt that nowadays mobile apps are a big source of income. But making money should be the only focal point or the end goal? 

The focal points should be something that’ll take you towards your end goal.  

Being a Part of the Trend 

Almost every business aspect is on the mobile app. More than 114.9 billion mobile applications were downloaded in the year 2019. Clearly, mobile app development is a good way to grow and the next smart move to stay in business. As everything is at our fingertips it is a good initiative to be a part of the trend. 


People recognise you and your brand better if you’re on a smart mobile app store. As per a people’s survey, a person spends 5-6 hours a day using the phone. And as for another survey, there is an average of 60 applications a person spends installing on his/her phone. This all sum up to that mobile app development is a better way to gain recognition in comparison to other means. 

Gain Users and Keep them Hooked 

Another focal point should not be about just gaining users but also keep them hooked. Every business/organisation/individual wants to connect to its customers and users by a means that it won’t lose them even when another similar app launches. You should focus on gaining more users while keeping your already existing user base intact. 

Being Different

There are millions of applications doing rounds on both of the app stores right now. A few hundred applications with the same idea exist in the market and every 42 hours a new app is launched. Being different and unique should be another focal point. Standing out the crowd and gaining more users, helps you to generate better revenue. 

Earning money from the application should be the end goal, that’ll be achieved over time. Considering these focal points will directly drive you towards your goal. 

Monetization Models 

After the briefing about the platform, researching and analysing the idea, target audience, market and competitors, and the focal points of the app. Let’s discuss the monetization techniques for mobile applications that you can consider and adapt to make money at your convenience. 

The monetization/revenue models can be classified into three breeds – 

  • Free apps – applications that are absolutely free of cost for the end-users. 
  • Partially Free (Freemium) – applications that users can download free of cost and have limited access and functionality for free. 
  • Paid Apps – applications for which users need to pay. 

Free Apps

Free applications are absolutely free of cost applications for anyone who uses the smartphone. You might be wondering if you’ll choose this revenue model, how are you gonna earn from your app? There are a number of ways you make money from an app even if you’re opting for Free Apps. 

In-app Advertisements

The in-app ads technique is a feasible one for mobile app developers to adapt and earn. Developers make money by providing other applications and services a platform to promote themselves and in-return charge them. By using modern data analysis tools you can legally analyse your users’ history and accordingly let the in-app ads roll. `Especially if you want to gain users and earn money both at the same time. The in-app ad technique has 4 ad formats you can choose from. 

Banner Ads

Image-based ads that will be embedded on your application’s activities usually below or above the main activity screen. One of the least annoying types of ads for your end-users because it won’t cover the whole screen and your users can use the app without being bothered much. 

Interstitials Ads 

These are usually full-screen ads that cover the complete screen of your app while the app is in any kind of transition stage like changing from one activity page to another. This might bother your users a little but you can earn more because this type of ads have a better conversion rate and are eye-cutting. 

Rewarded Videos 

You can add video promotional ads to appear time-to-time and help your users to gain some kind of rewards and brownie points if they watch it for a specific period of time and bring revenue to your app. Win-win for both you and your users.  

Native Advertising 

This type of ad totally merges into your app’s activities. This is the least annoying type for your end-users and still gonna help your sponsored partners and hence you.

Mobile App Development

Mobile App Development

These in-app ads have 3 ways to earn money – 


You’ll get paid for each click made by your user on the promotional ad displayed on your app. 


This one is in regard to the video ads. The more your users watch the video ads the more you earn. 


You’ll get paid whenever your end-user installs the promoted app through the link that appeared in your application’s ad. 


A unique and still beneficial strategy to make money from an app is you team up with other applications or businesses. This won’t be like the advertising but literally teaming up with other applications and embedding a few of their features in your app so that your end-users use that and hence, bring you revenue. Like DoorDash teams with restaurants and iMessage app and Spotify has been teamed up with Bumble. 

Opting for Free monetization is also a good option when you’re new in the market and struggling to gain users. 


Freemium is an application that is partially free. Using this model is also a good option if you’re not up for using in-app advertisements. You can make your app a free to download one, where your users can download it for free, able to explore it, and use the basic features without spending a penny. People like the idea of having something for free, it’ll be like providing free small food sample packets to users and after tasting and exploring the ingredients they will pay for the complete item if they like the sample. The same goes for the freemium app, your app will be free with basic features and free download but if your user wants to access advanced features or other embedded third-party functionalities or features he has to pay for it. 

There are different payment options according to the time that you can build in your app for users to choose from like annual, monthly, quarterly, etc. Freemium uses in-app purchases.  

Paid Apps

Paid applications are those apps that are paid from the very first beginning for users. There won’t be any freebie treat or feature. There are two types of paid applications.

Mobile App Development

One-time Fee Download 

If you go for this type then you’re only going to charge users once while they install the application and afterward the app will be available to your users without any extra charges for future updates, new features whatsoever. The app will be free forever. 


This type is somewhat a blend of freemium and one-time free download but not an exact mixture. In this type, your users will be allowed to download the app for free and explore it just like the freemium but don’t let them access any feature until and unless they log in and subscribe by paying the amount that you’ll decide whether you want it on a monthly basis or yearly. Like Netflix, it lets people explore but doesn’t let them access without payment. 

But if you’re just setting up your app, it’ll be more necessary to gain a user base and find your footing in the market hence,  you should keep this model aside to use at a later stage after the success of your app. 

Cost of Developing an App

The cost of mobile app development depends on a number of factors. But the most deciding factor is the complexity of your app. The development cost also depends on the time consumed by each stage of the development process. The development breaks into 7 phases – 

  • Research and Analyse 
  • Strategically Planning 
  • Designing 
  • Development 
  • Testing 
  • Deployment
  • Further maintenance 

The mobile app development company charges as per the time spent by its developers on a particular project. The general range is – 

  • USA – $100-$250 per hour
  • Europe – $80-$180 per hour 
  • UK and Australia – $50-$150 per hour 
  • India – $35-$100 per hour 

Tips If You’re Planning to Develop the Application Yourself

If you’re planning to develop an app on your own there are few things you should consider. 

  • The operating system you want to develop your app on. 
  • Framework 
  • Languages 
  • APIs
  • Software Tools 
  • Designing and development tools 
  • Launching strategies 

For further knowledge, you can refer to my previous blog “How to Launch an App?” and for basic development knowledge you can refer to “Beginners Guide to Native iOS and Android Mobile App Development”. 

For pricing, usually, developers put a price tag on the app according to the development and tools they use but what should you actually need to do is instead of wearing a developer’s hat you should wear the user’s shoes and then decide upon the price of your app. Few things you should consider before deciding the price of your app. 

  • Features and functionality of your app 
  • Daily-usability of your app, whether it’s an app that can be used daily 
  • Number of competitors in the market 
  • Money your competitors are charging
  • Uniqueness 
  • UI/UX complexity 
  • Future scope 

How Much Money Can You Make From an App? 

Mobile applications can generate billions of USD revenue but however, the number of applications that really do generate money is very less. No matter how many millions of applications are in the market only a few thousand are rolling in cash. So, it’s really tough to give you a specific range of what you can earn. 

If we go through the revenue generation statistics of last year we’ll see the most popular 200 applications are making $82,500 daily. And when we increase the number of applications we’ll see the value drops to $3,500 per day. 

Doing everything right and following every step is one thing but making money from an app is a long and tricky process at least for a few starting months. Thus, in the first few months instead of focusing on the end goal, you need to concentrate on finding your footing and earning users. 

Future of Mobile Application Development 

There are tons of opportunities and potential in the mobile application market. The world is shifting to a virtual platform and COVID-19 has sped up the process. To quote it lightly, the future of app development is bright because developers can solve almost every problem by code and designs and if they are unavailable to find a solution, they sure will come up with the alternatives. From getting food delivered to booking tickets online people can avoid unnecessary traveling. And as adults spend 4-5 hours a day on mobile phones the businesses are booming through mobile applications and so do the mobile applications. Therefore, mobile applications are here to stay and so does the money from them. 

Wrapping Up 

Making money-winning apps is not going out of trend any time soon. As the mobile apps market is undergoing perpetual growth the competition is high for mobile app development. You need an idea and work through, you’re going to take the market by storm in no time. In case, I forgot to mention anything or you have any suggestions feel free to leave comments.

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