Mobile & Apps

Freelance Programmer Tips: What’s Your App Really Worth?

Mobile App

Is it worthwhile for you to develop apps for phones and tablets? There’s been a huge increase in the number of programmers entering the mobile app market, each hoping recreate the success of the Angry Birds app developers, who earned millions from Apple’s AppStore from downloads of the addictive game. There’s so many variables that determine how much money a free or paid application earns for the developer; some developers made several hundred dollars a month while other indy developers earn several thousand dollars per month.

How Many Apps Does It Take To Earn A Living?

Grabbing a share of the millions of dollars paid out to developers each year by Apple’s AppStore, Microsoft’s app store and the Google Play store for downloads of paid apps is easy; grabbing a large enough share to quit your day job is a challenge. If you’re an entrepreneur developer, you either have to create four or five apps per year that appeal to a wide range of people to earn a decent living, or create one app that takes off and a million or more people download for it.  As Biz Stone said, “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”  In general, paid apps generate a steadier revenue stream than free apps with advertising.

iOS vs. Android?

The average paid app costs less than one dollar but Apple’s average price per app is higher so you can charge more for your creation and still remain competitive. Developing for iOS also lets you target a more affluent audience who is used to paying for high quality apps.

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Google’s Play Store has more free apps than anyone else’s store so paid apps are a tough sell. If you create a free app and ensure ads are shown that people will want to click, you have the potential to make more with Android apps than iOS apps. Free apps only generate revenue when they have active users. More people are walking around with Android-powered devices than iOS or Windows phones and tablets so you have a better chance of earning money with free apps for Android because you’ll have a larger pool of potential active users.

Microsoft offers very few free apps and they pay mobile app developers the most money per download but you can expect far fewer downloads; there just are not many people using Windows phones. If this changes and Microsoft increases their market share, developing apps for Windows could become much more lucrative.

Cost to Create Apps

Coding schools and graphics design classes cost money but your development costs decrease dramatically as you learn how to do more of the work yourself. Hiring a game source code programmer is significantly more expensive than hiring a graphic designer so learning coding is the better investment. Learn how to market your app yourself and you’ll save even more money and have control over your application’s promotion.

The simpler the app, the less expensive it is to develop. However, people are much more likely to download fun, interactive apps, like games. Great apps create a buzz and go viral so you have to consider the cost of development as an investment.

Universal apps cost more to develop than apps designed for one device but you cut out much of your potential audience if you don’t design for both tablets and phones.

Every feature added to an application increases the development cost but adds to the developer’s ROI. Social media integration is one feature that pays for itself, especially if you’re building free apps and need people who downloaded the app to remain active users.

So, what’s your app worth? Whatever your target audience will pay; $1.99 is a good starting point for paid apps. If your app fill a void, is intuitive, justifies the storage it takes up in users phones or tablets, and you don’t abandon users, you will  see a healthy return.

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