How apps earn money is all pretty simple really.

Here’s our guide to the money-making opportunities that are out there. One only needs to look at the revenues apps like Candy Crush and Tinder are attracting to arrive at the conclusion that apps can make a ton of cash.

However, not all apps make serious money. In fact, the majority of apps make very little, if anything. What’s more, the world’s most lucrative apps are the ones you may suspect the least. Let’s take a look at exactly how apps earn money and what you need to do to make sure you’re one of the lucky few who does make money from your app.

The mobile market has been growing at a steady rate over the last few years and will continue to do so. Since 2014, more people have been accessing the web via their mobile phones than desktop, and a massive 80% of Internet users own a smartphone. All this means one thing: When it comes to mobile apps, there’s a lot of money on the table.

If you are new to all this but have a great idea and are keen to get a piece of the pie, you’ll rightly be wondering what steps you need to take to ensure that your app is profitable. Building apps is by no means easy and you’re going to need to invest some money and plenty of effort. To figure out whether it will all be worth it, you should start by getting a good idea of what type of cash your app could potentially generate.

Mentalstack is a leading expert when it comes to app development. We can help you to make sure your money is profitable and maximize your revenues.

How Apps Earn Money

One of the first big decisions you’re going to need to make is which platform you are going to launch your app on. In addition to impacting how much money you can earn from your app, the platform you use will also influence the market you reach and the adoption rate you can expect.

iOS & Android

Both iOS and Android can be great money earners. To quantify differences between the iOS and Android platforms, we have calculated the number of app developers who earn $5,000 or more per month from their apps.


It may not surprise you that the iOS developers are leading the way when it comes to earnings, with 25% of developers earning in excess of $5,000 a month in revenue in comparison to the 16% of Android developers. However, what is worth noting, is that Android developers are likely to earn more money from their apps than iOS developers in terms of total earnings potential. What’s more, the developers on the iOS platform achieve a wider spread of earnings, which essentially means that you have more chance of making money on the iOS app market if you’re a newbie than you do on the Andoird platform. Take a look at our guide to Five Great Reasons Why You Need to Invest in the Development of Android Apps and you’ll see other pros to start developing Android apps.

Blackberry & Windows

The figures also indicate that you should give Blackberry OS and Windows mobile platforms a miss. Blackberry has not achieved anything like the market penetration Apple or Android have secured and RIM, its parent company, is certainly not a rising star. While Windows has Microsoft’s backing, it is not particularly popular among mobile phone users. Although niche platforms can be profitable for the right apps, its best to launch in a more popular market first and then port your app to additional platforms when it has proven its potential.

How Much Revenue Do Apps Generate?

The companies that are killing it in terms of app sales are proving time after time that apps are big money earners. In fact, the value of the global app market increased by $10,000 billion between 2015 and 2016 alone. According to reports from Business Insider, app revenue will continue on an upward trend for quite some time to come, with an increase of a further 18% predicted by 2020.

When it comes to the biggest earners, gaming apps really dominate the listings.

Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle earns an estimated $2 million, and Candy Crush earns $1.6 A DAY, while Supercell makes over $2.3 billion annually.

The majority of game app providers operate a system whereby the app is free to download and play, but customers later pay money to access more features, gaming time, and other benefits.

However, it’s not just the game designers who are making serious money. Free apps are usually the biggest earners and e-commerce solutions. Since the launch in 2004, Kim Kardashian’s virtual shopping app has earned a reported $100 million from 42 million downloads.

How Subscription Apps Make Money

Subscription sites are also big earners. Tinder, for example, currently has over 1 million paid members. Again, the app is free to download and use; however, users are charged to access the features that they really need to make the most of the app. For example, bonus swipes. The operators of Tinder, Match Group, published earnings of over $285.3 million in revenue in 2016, making it one of the highest earners in the world.


The list of top-grossing apps also includes Tidal, Spotify, and Pandora. In these cases, users pay to enjoy listening to music without being interrupted by commercials or share playlists with other users. A subscription-based approach is also employed by video-streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu.

AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield app is particularly interesting. This app offers users throughout the world to access a virtual private network (VPN). Technologies of this nature played a major role in events such as Arab Spring because it allowed users to avoid government censorship measures. AnchorFree is currently available at a rate of $6-15 monthly and has around 5 million users, making it one of the biggest earners on the iTunes App Store.

Hook the user

But it’s not just the major corporations that are cashing in on apps. Some privately owned apps have also performed pretty well. Take HOOKED for example, which currently makes around $2 million dollars a year. The idea behind the app is really quite simple. Users have a chance to read suspenseful stories that are delivered in the form of text messages during the course of the week. However, to find out how the story ends, they are required to subscribe to the app.

Kayla Itsines’ Sweat with Kayla is a massive money generator and a great example of what’s possible. Subscribers are provided with a daily 28-minute workout together with a diet plan. This app got off to a flying start shortly after launch and now generates $45,100 dollars in revenue and approximately 9,000 new users a day.

Apps Aren’t Just For Mobile Phones

Apps are no longer limited to mobile phones. More and more apps are launching that are targeted at other smart devices such as Smart TVs, video game consoles, and even smart watches.

Smart TVs are now pretty much a standard feature in many homes, and developers have been quick to try and tap into this. The most popular apps on Smart TVs are currently Netflix and Hulu, which makes perfect sense given the content of these apps. While apps that are specifically targeted for use on Smart TVs are by no means as common as those for smartphones, it’s certainly a space worth watching.

Video game consoles now have their own app stores too. Apps built specifically for the likes of Wii, PlayStation 4, and Xbox include Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. Some are available on only one platform. For example, the BBC app is currently only available on PS4. Depending on what market you’re expecting to target and how your app works, this is certainly a platform worth considering.

Another emerging platform that is certainly worth keeping an eye on is smartwatches. While smartwatches have yet to secure universal usage, they are growing in popularity, and around 16% of Internet users currently own one.

What’s The Next Big Thing For App Development?

What’s abundantly clear is that there are plenty of opportunities to make money from apps out there. The app market is growing at an exponential rate, and it doesn’t look like it is going to slow down anytime soon. The fact is that over 25% of app developers on the iOS platform and 18% on the Android platform are garnering over $5,000 a month from their offerings certainly makes it worth a punt.

Need some help?

Contact us at [email protected] and we will provide you with a detailed estimation of timing and price for your project. Give us a call at +1844.880.5473 and we will give you a solid plan of turning your idea into reality as a bonus.


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