Monday, July 11, 2011

Income from paid vs ad-based app

When I published my last post, Android vs WP7 - A case study, I said I had plans to release a free, ad-based version of the app for Android to compare income from ads to income from sales. What's said is done and I hereby present you with the magic numbers.

Android, Free (Ads)356$1.75
Android, Paid ($1)50$43.11
WP7, Paid ($1)75$52.50
This blog (Ads)N/A$42.90

It should be noted that the ad-based Android app has been on the market a good two months less than the other products in the table. It was released some time in March 2011 (exact date not noted) and the results are collected today, July 11th.

As you can see, the "income" from the ads from the free version of Flags and Capital Quiz is ridiculously low, even if we compensate for the missing two or three months of market time. Although the volume of the sample data in this "analysis" is far from big enough to draw any absolute conclusions, I think it gives some interesting indications. I for one am not going put all my eggs in the basket of ad-based apps for the Android platform.

As a fun fact I included the earnings I've had for ads on this page (Google Adsense) in the same period of time. I guess one can't conclude that blogging is more lucrative than writing phone apps based on this, but well...

When this is said, a interesting new feature has been introduced to the Android platform since I last wrote. Well a lot of interesting new features have been introduced actually, but the one of interest in this context is the ability to exexute in-app billing on the platform. This basically gives us the same possibilies as the Trial mode flag on the Windows Phone 7 platform. It just takes a couple of hundred more lines of code ;-)

Still I'm quite interested in seeing the development of the use of in-app billing in the developer community. Because of the quite crappy income genereated from ads, I'd expect more developers to go for the Trial/Full version licensing model in the time to come. I know a great deal already are, by publishing two separate apps, but I think it will be even more popular with the new model.


  1. Hi Frode,

    Interesting results and "in line" with my own experience.

    Some of my thoughts;

    - In the future I'll only write ad-based apps that are used frequently. I will also use notifications and other tricks to "remind" the user that your app is installed.

    - In-app billing is great, even if a bit tricky to implement. I have my "phone locator" ( as a free app. To enable the GPS tracking part of the app, the user has to "upgrade" it. I have about 200-250 $1 upgrades.

    I am now thinking of testing out "try the app for free 10 times, and then pay or uninstall using in app billing.

    I have also found (so far) that doubling the price from $1 to $2 doesn't really affect the number of sales. I think the people that pay for apps really don't mind if they pay $.99 or $1.99.

    When thinking about ads, also keep in mind that this is a fast growing market. Google is activating half a million (!) Android devices a day!

    I am also publishing my apps in the Amazon app store. The review process makes it a bit more work, but I am almost sure that Amazon will launch a tablet in Q3. I think it can be smart to have a couple of tablet apps for sale then :-)

    I have also published my apps in the app store "Handster" (it's the third largest after Google and Amazon) - so far I have about 1 download there for every 4 in the Google Android Market.

  2. Interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience. I enjoyed reading the case study too.

    I think from your experience it is better to stick with cheaper paid app rather than using Ads.

    Hey, use Twitter so we can follow devs like you :)

  3. Thanks for your feedback, Hasan. My twitter nick is @Nilzor - updated the "about me field" now :)

  4. Good points there, Glenn. There are many ways to implement trial modes. And I am also gonna yank up the price on my next app - probably as high as $4. Will be interesting to see the effects.

  5. I'd be really interested to see how the ad sales pan out over the longer term.

  6. Andy: Well there's such a low volume of users of my app that there is not really much more to learn from this. I have a total of $2.15 income from the ads as of now.