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Consumers Less Willing to Pay for Content as Free Apps Surge

According to a new report from mobile analytics firm Flurry, free apps supported by ads and/or in-app purchases are becoming an increasingly popular choice for developers and consumers alike, with 90% of iOS apps now being offered for free. In 2012, that number was just 84%, marking a 6% increase over the past year.

Some might argue that this supports the idea that "content wants to be free". We don’t see it quite that way. Instead, we simply see this as the outcome of consumer choice: people want free content more than they want to avoid ads or to have the absolute highest quality content possible.
Flurry also compared the pricing of both Android apps and iPhone and iPad apps, finding that iOS users are generally more willing to pay for content. The average Android app price as of April 2013 was $0.06, while the average iPhone app price was $0.19.

iPad apps have traditionally been more expensive with developers charging a higher premium for more screen real estate, which caused the average iPad app price to be a good deal higher than Android or iPhone apps at $0.50. iPad apps, on average, are priced 2.5 times higher than iPhone apps and eight times higher than Android apps.

Due to the uptick in free apps, Flurry suggests that consumer behavior indicates ad-supported content will continue to surge, and that ads in apps are a "sure thing for the foreseeable future."

Flurry collects its data from the more than 350,000 people that access its Flurry Analytics tools.

Top Rated Comments

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15 months ago
Unfortunately, we will see more apps that are ad-supported AND with crazy numbers of in-app purchases. I would rather pay for full app or have apps that are only ad-supported (i.e. no in-app purchases). I think the concept of "in-app purchase" is getting out of hand with many applications.
Rating: 39 Votes
15 months ago
I hate this new ecosystem.

Free-to-play (more like pay-to-win) games and subscription based apps... I hate having to shell out money every time I want to continue, or pay yet another bill every month. I honestly wonder if the "free app" world is a bubble getting ready to burst. How long will it be before people realize that most of the free apps out there are just glorified Facebook games making a comeback?

Have you seen Plants vs Zombies 2? Ridiculous:

Thumb resize.

I'll gladly pay a higher price for a quality application. I want to buy it and be done, not nickeled and dimed. But in the world of DLC, free-to-play, subscriptions, online passes and always-online, I just don't have the interest in purchasing something I can't own and keep forever.

But alas, we are the minority. And they are the sheep.
Rating: 34 Votes
15 months ago
It just sucks that a good chunk of app developers in my experience make free apps with ads and no buy-in upgrade or paid version without ads. I simply cant stand advertising and more often than not will avoid apps with ads in them.
Rating: 13 Votes
15 months ago
If people are to cheap to spend .99 cents on a $600+ phone and probably $50/month plan, then why even have the phone?
Rating: 10 Votes
15 months ago
Let's put that a bit in perspective:

Rating: 10 Votes
15 months ago
I don't think the conclusion is correct. Many apps are going to a model where the App itself is "free" but you pay for content within the App. This means that on average more "free" apps will be purchased... but it doesn't mean people are spending less money on Apps.

Look at Real Racing 3... I bought RR1 and RR2... but RR3 is "free" and then you buy stuff in the game with real money. I didn't download it because it was "free" I got it because RR1 and RR2 were good games. If it would have cost money I would have bought it as well.

Personally, I'm not a fan of this model. I prefer to buy something up front instead of getting nickel and dimed... but with how popular this model is becoming it must work...
Rating: 8 Votes
15 months ago
Not to be a total dweeb, but it is not a 6% increase. It's 7.1% (6/84*100). You could say the percentage of free apps is 6 percentage points higher, but the increase is 7.1%

I hate myself...math goofs drive me goofy (er)
Rating: 7 Votes
15 months ago
This is just what Apple wants. Free or very cheap apps make buying an iOS device that much more attractive. Unless income can be made via advertising or some other sort of way it kind of stinks for developers.
Rating: 6 Votes
15 months ago

This is just what Apple wants. Free or very cheap apps make buying an iOS device that much more attractive. Unless income can be made via advertising or some other sort of way it kind of stinks for developers.

Exactly. Apple's support of their developers is becoming more and more questionable. As hardware becomes more indistinguishable, Apple should be trying to differentiate themselves with software, "Only on iOS".

Yet... the App Store primarily promotes free crapware with insane $99.99 in-app purchases. They are in a race to the bottom with Android.

Instead, they should promote quality software, that is only on iOS. The App Store has become useless as a means to find quality software. That is why consumers don't even want to pay $0.99, there's a 80% chance the app will suck.



Buyers have become more weary of purchasing app's that later didn't fulfill their needs and would rather a free app with ads. It's a shame developers cannot offer a trial mode via the App Store, forcing them to offer trial versions on their own site or two versions via the App Store, one free for trial and one paid.

Agree. But that is the role that In-App purchases attempts to fill.

Unfortunately it is abused to no end.

Rating: 6 Votes
15 months ago
I may have to disagree on certain points raised. Of course, consumers are always going to go for free options where available. But I don't believe any consumers find in-app purchases to be a good thing.

When I was younger, playing old demos of Jazz Jackrabbit, Tyrian 2000, Descent 2 and countless others, they'd give you a taste of the full game for free. If you liked it, they'd tell you where to purchase it.

I may be oversimplifying a matter here, but if you simply had one app -- the game itself -- that you played, with limited features; and if you liked it enough, you could pay X amount to unlock the full version. I genuinely feel consumers would both benefit and prefer this style.

However as there aren't many apps like that out there, I can only imagine people don't really like that idea. What do you guys think?
Rating: 5 Votes

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