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App subscriptions aren’t enough to help most developers make money

Published Mar 13th, 2024 1:07PM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro showing App Store ahead of iOS 17.4 beta release
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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RevenueCat has released its State of Subscription Apps report (via TechCrunch). The study analyzed over 29,000 apps and 18,000 developers, which combined to generate over $6.7 billion in tracked revenue from 290 million subscribers.

Although these are big numbers, the report shows that the top 5% of apps generate 200 times more revenue than the bottom quartile after their first year. More impressively, an app generates less than $50 monthly after a year.

Still, once the app gets traction, it’s more likely that revenue will only keep growing. RevenueCat says that 17.2% of apps will reach $1,000 in monthly income. After hitting that point, 59% of these software reach $2,500, and 60% that make it to the milestone can increase to $5,000.

But from there, the revenue narrows, and only 3.5% of apps will reach $10,000 in monthly revenue. While this might be enough for an indie developer to survive, this wouldn’t be the case for a mobile-first startup to become profitable.

Who’s winning in the app developer world?

2023 App Store Award WinnersImage source: Apple Inc.

The study reveals that health and fitness apps are more likely to generate more revenue after a year, performing at least twice as well as other categories combined. Travel and productivity apps, on the other hand, make less than $1,000 per month after a year on the app stores.

RevenueCat also shows that the most common price for a monthly subscription is still $10, but the average price for a monthly subscription is now around $8.00.

Other tidbits include the fact that North American-based apps have 4x better monetization than the global average. At the same time, Japanese and South Korean markets monetize better on Android than iOS, which is surprising data.

Long story short, the developer world isn’t easy. With more apps betting on subscriptions, users aren’t always finding the benefit in this option. What they usually do is pay for an app for the time they need and then cancel in favor of another service. Resubscribing happens more often with media and entertainment apps.

Wrap up

That said, your subscription might not be enough to make that developer you love keep adding new features to an app. Diversifying projects or adding other revenue might be the way to help some of these workers to profit.

You can request the full report to RevenueCat.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.