Over 30 billion apps have been downloaded in the past year, and it has recently been announced that almost 90% of those are free. Free apps are becoming a very evident trend, in which consumers are now growing accustomed to never having to pay for their applications, but how sustainable can this really be?
The current digital revolution has presented an ideal that we should receive free media, and this is no exception for mobile as 9 out of 10 apps downloaded are free. Any app developer hoping for success will now struggle to charge a fee for their product, as they are competing with an immense amount of good quality, free apps. Whilst this sounds like a greater advantage for us as the audience, freemium apps are genuinely becoming a smart and profitable business model. By being free, the app instantly becomes more attractive to the consumer, allowing them more of a chance for popularity and success. Once downloaded, revenue can then be generated through in-app purchases, a method which has proven to be successful with the more casual app users. Another method for developers is, of course, advertising. Being exposed to ads seems to be a small price we're willing to pay in exchange for a free app.
There are many examples of free apps which have been incredibly successful, including Facebook, Shazam and Skype. It could be argued that these organisations are in a financial position to release free apps, and that the freemium model is bad news for struggling indie developers. However, with in-app purchases driving the success of freemium, it has become not just increasingly desirable but also a real possibility for most developers.