For those involved with iPhone and iPad development as well as those employing the services of such people, a common dilemma is in deciding whether or not to release your mobile app as a paid application or release it for free, something that that is possible on both the Apple App store and the Android Marketplace. The lure of possible monetary gain is one that is quite attractive to many and for good reasons, yet it has some obvious pitfalls. The most substantial difference between a paid app and one released for free is the amount of users that will see it and potentially download it. Whilst browsing for applications, most users tend to stick to the free section of the app store and for this reason, most free apps receive many more views and subsequent downloads than their paid counterparts.
So does this mean you should release your apps for free? Well, if you have a truly great mobile app, and you believe people will want it despite the cost, then it obviously makes more sense in releasing it as a paid product. The advances in iPad and iPhone development has resulted in a huge potential within the areas of app design and usability. Apps for both devices can be quite powerful and, assuming your iPad or iPhone development team has created something very worthwhile, people will pay for it. Examples of this are powerful photo editing apps, challenging and exciting games, and apps that just bring about a new form of use and functionality to the device, those apps with the wow factor. If you can design and create an app that gives the user something valuable that they cannot receive from a free alternative, it is most definitely worth charging for your hard work, and even if it is available in some form for free, if your is higher quality and comes with added value then releasing it as a paid offering may also be a good idea.
Still, many people overlook the possibility of making money from these free applications. iPhone and iPad development has come a long way since Apple opened the doors to the development community, and app design now allows for in-app advertising via banner ads or popups, using either Apples own iAD service or a third party. Even video ads can be integrated into your app, assuming the design allows for it. This is a great alternative to making money through your app while still releasing it to the public for free. You get the benefit of more views to your app from being listed under the “free” section in the app store, and you also get the possibility of generating a viable revenue stream through your in-app advertising. Many apps and games on both the iPhone and iPad currently use this system of generating revenue, and it seems to have worked very well for them.
For those who simply cannot choose between one or the other, there is also the possibility of releasing a “lite” version of your paid app for free. This method of giving a teaser or preview of your app is very common in not only the iPhone and iPad app stores, but also all application stores on most mobile devices today. The idea is that you have your fully-featured paid version of the app released, and then you also release a free version with limited functionality or some sort of limitation on what you can do. What this does is enable the prospective buyer to test out your app, realise its potential, and then want to purchase the full featured version for all the benefits and usability.
There are several alternatives for releasing a mobile app, and it is up to you and your iPad or iPhone development team to figure out which method will work best for generating revenue and getting the most people to download and use your app, and this all depends on the products and services you develop and the target market that uses them.