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Most mobile apps with subscriptions do not make money, a new in-depth analysis finds.

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The "State of Subscription Apps" report comes from RevenueCat (via TechCrunch), a prominent mobile subscription toolkit provider. With nearly 30,000 apps utilizing its platform for monetization management, RevenueCat is able to provide a reliable overview of the subscription app landscape thanks to its data collection capabilities. The analysis delves into data from over 29,000 apps and 18,000 developers, collectively responsible for more than $6.7 billion in revenue and over 290 million subscribers.

RevenueCat found that while the top-performing 5% of subscription apps amass revenue 200 times greater than those in the bottom quartile, the median monthly revenue for apps after one year is less than $50. Only 17.2% of apps cross the $1,000 monthly revenue mark. Reaching this milestone significantly boosts the likelihood of further financial growth, with 59% of these apps progressing to achieve $2,500 in monthly revenue, and 60% of those reaching the $5,000 mark. A mere 3.5% of apps achieve $10,000 in monthly revenue.

Health and fitness apps generate at least twice the revenue of all other categories combined, both in the bottom quartile and among the top 5% of earners. In contrast, travel and productivity apps face the most significant challenges, with even the top performers in these categories struggling to make over $1,000 per month after a year on the market.

Despite these statistics, the subscription app market continues to grow and the average price for monthly subscriptions has increased by 14% from $7.05 to $8.01. However, the report also noted a recent shift in consumer behavior, with a 14% drop in subscriber retention over 12 months.

Article Link: Report: Most Subscription-Based Apps Do Not Make Money
 
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contacos

macrumors 601
Nov 11, 2020
4,780
18,520
Mexico City living in Berlin
They are certainly not seeing my money. Why should I pay a subscription for an app like "Splitwise" which was developed once and hasn't had any changes (as far as I can tell) since. What am I paying them a monthly fee for? NOPE

Subscriptions only make sense for things like Netflix to me where you actually have new content every day / month
 
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zachz

macrumors regular
Jun 18, 2012
248
830
Why developers choose to use subscriptions in the first place when they can certainly choose to use one-time payment option! Most of them didn't make the app quality good enough to deserve subscription fees.
I’ve noticed that every app I’ve paid for (I refuse to pay for subscriptions except on a very rare occasion where it’s like $10 a year), the one time-purchase apps are much better quality, better supported, and just overall more pleasant to use.

I feel like with subscriptions they’re just using it to suck people in and then not caring. Even more so when it’s an annual subscription.
 
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sjsharksfan12

macrumors 68000
Jun 29, 2020
1,888
2,382
San Jose, CA
One of the reasons I don't use Fantastical is I refuse to pay for a Calender subscription. Why pay a subscription when Apple's works perfectly fine? Now if Fantastical offered a one time payment and was rich in features, I would probably consider it, but that Subscription that is less than a cup of coffee would grow over time with more and more subscriptions. Then you just need all the time to figure out all the subscriptions you actually have and it really does add up.

With that said I do pay for some subscriptions (Pocketcasts, Apple Music, ESPN+) because I use those every day and those are actually services that enhance my use of the phone.
 

vagos

macrumors 6502
Oct 19, 2014
271
1,675
When you decide to price something like SaaS the choice is easy. You need recurring revenue to cover recurring expenses like servers. But with apps it's not like that. The server is your phone and it doesn't cost money to the developer to keep the app running. Therefore why pay monthly when a one-time-payment should suffice ?

Plus in smartphones people are "educated" to get everything for free. It's harder to convince someone to pay a monthly fee for what should (in their eyes) be free.

Disclaimer: I'm a web dev and use subscriptions for my apps.
 

coffeemilktea

macrumors 6502a
Nov 25, 2022
887
3,630
In contrast, travel and productivity apps face the most significant challenges, with even the top performers in these categories struggling to make over $1,000 per month after a year on the market.
Well, there goes my plan of making a subscription-based app that displays memes of "cats in offices" but with the meme's text poorly Google-Translated into whatever the local language in the user's country is... my brilliant and fool-proof business plan has gone up in smoke, so I guess I won't quit my day job just yet. 😩
 

dguisinger

macrumors 65816
Jul 25, 2002
1,097
2,242
I would prefer a "lifetime subscription" model, aka try before you buy.

Download for free, get a limited amount of time to use it on trial, and then get full functionality with a one-time subscription... because I also don't like paying for an app up front without having seen that its actually useful to me.
 

anakin44011

macrumors regular
Jan 6, 2004
212
797
Do most 'other' apps make money?

There's something suspicious about the language/analysis.

I mean...most recorded music doesn't make money, regardless of purchase/streaming model. This is why we have record labels - the few hits would pay for the numerous stinkers.
 

bcortens

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2007
1,274
1,631
Ontario Canada
When you decide to price something like SaaS the choice is easy. You need recurring revenue to cover recurring expenses like servers. But with apps it's not like that. The server is your phone and it doesn't cost money to the developer to keep the app running. Therefore why pay monthly when a one-time-payment should suffice ?

Plus in smartphones people are "educated" to get everything for free. It's harder to convince someone to pay a monthly fee for what should (in their eyes) be free.

Disclaimer: I'm a web dev and use subscriptions for my apps.
I think the big problem is Apple doesn’t allow proper upgrade pricing. Sure you can release a whole new App but then you lose all your reviews, existing installs, and user data doesn’t auto-migrate.
 

Mr. Heckles

macrumors 65816
Mar 20, 2018
1,385
1,795
Around
When you decide to price something like SaaS the choice is easy. You need recurring revenue to cover recurring expenses like servers. But with apps it's not like that. The server is your phone and it doesn't cost money to the developer to keep the app running. Therefore why pay monthly when a one-time-payment should suffice ?

Plus in smartphones people are "educated" to get everything for free. It's harder to convince someone to pay a monthly fee for what should (in their eyes) be free.

Disclaimer: I'm a web dev and use subscriptions for my apps.
You’re a dev?

I can name apps off the top of my head that require servers/cloud that isn’t my phone.

YouTube (ads supported, but you can have a subscription)

Fastmail (for emails)

1Password (yes, bad example, but people are using their servers to connect other devices)

I can list more also.

I can see some apps needed or, but I can see some not at all.
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,491
19,261
Why developers choose to use subscriptions in the first place when they can certainly choose to use one-time payment option!
It's not hard to see why

(A) one time payment of $99.99 and buyer can use the app for as long as they want or when it's no longer supported by the OS, or

(B) $9.99/mo to use the app

Obviously, (A) is better for the consumer. But (B) is better for the developer because if you want to use an app for a full year, you'd have paid $119.88
 

sulli18

macrumors newbie
Jun 30, 2021
2
13
I think, at the end of the day, people just don't like getting fleeced. Especially on a recurring basis.

So, charge an appropriate amount for the value you are providing. And charge it once. And people will fall in love with the thing. $60/year for a Sudoku app is just not something the average player can justify - it automatically makes it appeal only to niche players (completely made up example).

Some apps warrant subscriptions, but most have no recurring costs to justify them. And even though the model is pushed by Apple (because it also means they earn more) does not mean it's sustainable for users or app developers.
 
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