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The application economy is less than a decade old and has already begun to revolutionize the software industry. This is opposed to the history of their services, when much of their revenue opportunities were derived from adding features to existing software production. People have access to mobile phones in developing countries more than they have access to clean drinking water, electricity, secondary school education, or even sanitation. With data becoming accessible and affordable, more people are consuming digital content than ever before.

An application is ultimately a mode of transport that we need, to communicate a service. Today, along with the swift growth in the usage of smartphones, the usage of applications has exponentially increased. The mobile handset will continue to scale rapidly in emerging markets. Going by GSMA’s report on the state of the Mobile Economy, the total number of mobile subscribers in Asia pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle will grow to 4.6 billion by 2020.

For example, applications are in demand in the Middle East. Almost 85 per cent of mobile internet users have downloaded an application. Top applications include email, social networking, news and weather, sports news and hobbies. In a demographic split, female mobile internet users were found more likely to use photo and video streaming websites, while their male counterparts favored gaming websites.

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And this demand for digital content will only grow in the future as income level rises and the lives of the people gets more finely ingrained with digital developments across the world.

According to Flurry Report Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are the three largest application users in Latin America, which is in line with their respective market share in the smartphone category. Utilities and productivity applications were the most downloaded, followed by sports, messaging and games.

The application economy in Africa is also buzzing with home grown applications finding good traction. Local messaging applications, food takeaways, courier services, coupons and deals are also finding favor with the locals. The Asia Pacific region leads the application economy, which is not surprising as it has the largest share smartphone users. In 2016, the region accounted for almost 800 million of the 1.4 billion applications installed.

The growing application economy is a good indicator of the health of digital content ecosystem, as it leads to better user experience as well as monetization opportunities.

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July 10, 2017 0 comment
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The first blog of this series dealt with why jumping onto the mobile application development bandwagon was a good idea. To ensure that an overly rosy picture wasn’t painted, the argument was tempered with several history lessons, to reach the conclusion that monetization was the key to ensure the mobile application in question was a money spinner.

Now let’s move on to the harder bit. Let’s talk hard numbers: how much do you think your application is worth? Remember, price it too high and nobody would buy it. Price it too low and you may not be able to cover your own margins. Essentially, the trick is to price it just right. On this note, experts are usually unanimous in their opinion that the following questions are sacrosanct while trying to determine how to price a mobile-based application: what is the offering all about? What does the application do? What is my competition offering? Why should a customer opt for my application, vis a vis my competition? And, last but certainly not the least-how is my competition pricing their applications?

Once you have the answers to these questions in place, you’re ready to answer the most important one (and the reason this blog has been written, really), what are the best ways to monetize my mobile application? There are, of course, a thousand and one ways to achieve this, a few may work, while others may not. While I am certainly not an expert in this area, permit me to discuss a few interesting ones that may just help you hit the bull’s-eye.

The first point I’d like to make is launching a trial version of the application. This will help whet the customers’ appetite, as well as give them an idea of the quality of the actual application. Beware, though, maintaining two versions of the same application implies a lot more blood, sweat and tears. Also, remember to have a solid up-sell plan in place before you attempt this route.

Also consider the “freemium” or gated features route. Simply put, like the in-application advertising model, a freemium application is also free. However, certain “advanced” or “premium” features are gated and cost money to be unlocked. The customer can access the application’s basic functionality, but will be charged to access all the features. This method is basically aimed at accumulating and engaging customers until they discover the application’s value and are willing to pay to access additional in-application tools.

While we’re on the subject of payments, let’s talk about paid applications. Now, needless to say, a customer will obviously opt for a free application, vis a vis a paid one. So, the key to making money via a paid application depends on a developer’s ability to showcase the perceived value of the same with a killer listing (which includes screenshots, five star reviews, etc.) that differentiates it from similar free applications. In other words, the most profitable paid applications do wonders in selling their application’s unique features, such as design or functionality or brand.

Next, consider using in-application advertisements, but very cautiously. Look, there is little doubt that this is one of the most popular methods to monetize one’s application, but it has to be treated with kid gloves. Why? Well, don’t you find those advertisements that pop-up in the middle of the movie, game, music clip, etc, annoying? The trick is to know how and when to use this method. Industry experts believe that developers need to find an organic way to integrate the product with advertisements or to enhance the application itself with the same. For example, Pandora has shown how to leverage advertisements to its advantage by offering ‘sponsored’ playlists among their music service. In other words, it can be done, just figure out “how” and without annoying your customers.

Now let’s talk about in-application purchases or things one can pay for within an application. This, again, is a tricky one. The developer has to walk a tightrope while examining what the product offers and how its services can be extended for a small financial cost in a way that is beneficial to both him and the customers. Too subtle and you lose the money game. Too brash or too ambitiously priced and no customer will buy it.

The newest route in the market (arguably) is sponsorships or incentivized advertising. This method requires the developer to partner with advertisers who provide customers with rewards when they complete certain actions within the application. In this model, the application sees the big bucks coming in by netting a share of the revenue from redeemed rewards. In addition, it permits the developer to incorporate advertising that actually enhances the application’s ability to engage users. This model can be adapted for almost any vertical, and can be better received by customers because it is relevant and related to an application’s purpose.

To sum up, this is by no means an exhaustive list of how an application makes money. In fact, the game is going to get tougher, with Gartner predicting that until 2018, less than 0.01 per cent of mobile applications will be considered a financial success by their developers. The bottom-line this grim forecast brings to the fore is: in the end, developers who are creative and not averse to taking risks are the ones who win the game. So, dear developers, happy monetizing and may the best application win.

February 24, 2016 0 comment
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There are a plethora of mobile applications available in the market today. Be it Android’s Google Play Store or the iOS App Store, every application distribution platform is flooded with a variety of free and paid apps.

The number of mobile application downloads have kept increasing exponentially worldwide. As per the reports released by Statista, the number of mobile app downloads summed up to 2.52 billion in 2009 and in the following years – 2010, 11 & 12 – it saw a massive rise, amounting to 4.52, 21.65 and 64 billion downloads respectively.  App downloads have kept increasing enormously ever since they were first introduced and in the year 2015, a never-before figure of 200 billion was recorded for app downloads. The number is expected to increase to whopping 269 billion by the year 2017.

While the number of app downloads have kept themselves multiplying ever since the advent of mobile applications; the number of free app downloads have always downsized the paid app downloads. While free apps have accounted for 69 per cent of the total app downloads during the past 2 years; paid app downloads remained struck at 31 per cent. It is to be noted that out of the top 25 apps in the app store, around 15 are ad-supported free app versions. These facts map the consumer preference directly.

Making money with apps

Smart devices are becoming omnipresent across the globe. Owing to this, more developers are making their way to the niche of mobile app development now. While the Apple App Store is growing by over 1,000 apps per day; the Google Play Store welcomes around 3000 apps on a daily basis.  Still, there are selective applications on these platforms which perform exceptionally well on the verge of user engagement, retention and revenue generation.

In the mobile app business, it requires exceptionally high brand name recognition and high awareness to get users buy an app. The app developers can no longer monetize applications by selling them. Developing and offering useful free mobile apps, the developers are struggling to generate revenue through advertisements which, generally manifest as disruptive prolonged pre-roll or third-party pop-ups and create major deterrents for regular usage. Proficient mobile applications integrated with advertisements provide a major revenue source for the mobile application developers, which is quite crucial for their growth

The above facts map the importance of user engagement on the apps for monetizing them. So, what are the challenges faced by the app developers and how can they improve the user engagement on their app in order to mint money with it?

Importance of mobile app moneytization

Below are highlighted the biggest challenges associated with app monetization and the ways one can overcome them:

Making your app get noticed- The crowded mobile app market creates a pressure for the apps to get noticed without getting lost.

Solution – Create apps with great appeal. Include usable features, graphics and intuitive design to provide a wholesome experience.

Dealing with the device screen size – Users may access your app on multiple devices with different screen sizes. Designing your app only for the latest OS is a big no. Create an application which can run seamlessly on as many devices as possible.

Solution – Responsive Design give more liquidity to screens and thus, the same can be adjusted to suit different formats and screen sizes.

Make the application interactive – Interactions have the same importance as design responsiveness. Make maximum use of mobile sensors to create an interactive experience.

Solution – Consider interaction during the designing phase. Target a comprehensive experience without restricting to tap and swipe gestures. Use various click options with buttons and tangible interactions like shaking, tilting, flipping to play etc.

Maintaining a smooth on-board experience – Most of the apps do a poor job taking the new users onboard once downloaded is completed. Reports suggest that 26% of downloaded apps are used just once.

Solution – Use a simple and clear interface for your app. It must be kept in mind that a new user judges whether the downloaded app is engaging right off the bat or not.

Existing user engagement – Creativity and innovation have made the mobile app market highly active. Gaining happy and loyal users becomes a challenge.

Solution – Analyzing the way users interact to your app supports their retention. Offering value during downtime, an app can keep the users engaged in a meaningful way.

Paid download isn’t the only way –Higher the engagement, higher will be the advertising bucks. Higher revenue implies that the developer can keep the app free for download and increase downloads, which will eventually bring more advertisers.

Solution – Even minimal detail can prove to be delightful for the users and may result in high engagement. You can try rewarding them. Saving even a buck courtesy of your mobile application may be outright delightful in this economy.

Conclusion

Enlisted above are the major challenges faced by the developers in application monetization. There are various other small hurdles that may creep in every time they initiate working on a new app. All we can suggest for the mobile app developers is that they should put more emphasis on ‘what not to do’ than on ‘what to do’.

February 5, 2016 0 comment
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At first glance, jumping onto the mobile application development bandwagon seems like a good idea. And why not-as per data released by Statista, customers are keeping themselves extremely busy downloading these offerings. To illustrate, In May 2012, the number of available apps in the Google Play Store surpassed 1 million apps and was most recently placed at 1.6 million apps in July 2015. Clearly, no small numbers, these!

But, wait, there’s a catch-while there is no dearth of great ideas on the kind of application one can develop, having a “Eureka” moment isn’t enough. Here’s why-imagine you just launched a one-of-its kind mobile application. So, what’s next? What do you have to show for your efforts, i.e. where’s the money? How do you acquire the customers? How do you manage to register a good number of downloads in your first month. Do you plan to pull an Uber and offer coupons for free rides, as well as free Wi-Fi in the vehicle? Or do you prefer following in Flipkart’s footsteps and offer almost too good to be true discounts on certain products?

Simply put, monetizing the application is the tricky part, one which trips up even the best developer.  At this point, allow me a brief side-note and to go back in time to the era of the dot-com boom-i.e. roughly between 1997 and 2000. Just a quick refresher-there was a major rush to launch internet-based companies back then. The frenzy was so strong that a company’s stocks had the potential to rise significantly, merely by adding “e” as a prefix” to its name or a “.com” at the end.

Business Model is the key

Of course, the frenzy didn’t last for too long. In the end, every company was left scrambling for whatever was left over of their business and of course, their monies. So, what did this turbulent time teach us? In a nutshell, just that many start-ups were fundamentally uncreative. Many failed Internet start-ups began with ideas that involved little more than rehashing an existing business model onto a web site – or copying another company that did it. Companies followed the herd and didn’t give much thought to how best to monetize their business.

Now, let’s transplant this example in the context of mobile applications. Lesson number one: no matter how cutting-edge and fresh your ideas may be, they won’t necessarily bring in the dough. Monetization WILL, though. So, put that calculator down, you don’t need to know how rich the mobile application will make you (well, not yet, anyway). Instead, focus on how best to leverage your creation. Baby steps, for it’s a long-winded process.

October 6, 2015 0 comment
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