Why Are All the Apps Free?

According to AppsFire, free apps now dominate Apple’s App Store. They speculate that the popularity of In-App Purchases is driving this shift. That’s probably not the whole story: while In-App Purchase remain a popular strategy to generate revenue after the customer appreciates the app, there are many other reasons to release a free app.

74% of apps published in 2008 were paid, in contrast to 34% this year. – AppsFire

For an established company, releasing an app as a new product may not make sense but it can be a way to generate more interest in existing products. Apps can act as marketing brochures, attention-getters that stand out at trade shows, or special features that your competitors just can’t offer.

A car share business could use a mobile app to let members find an available car on the go. An accounting firm could provide a mobile app to remind clients of deadlines and estimate their tax refunds.

An app can provide an accessible demo for potential clients, giving them a free tour of your offerings or even letting them use a simpler version of your products, acting as a virtual salesperson. Mobile apps can quickly let potential clients see the value you can provide: the time you can save, the tasks you can automate, or the new business you can help them bring in.

If you’re looking to build brand awareness, a free app (possibly a game) to drive traffic to your website or within social media is a popular strategy. Plan this strategy carefully, if you’re hoping everyone will talk about your brand then make sure they only have good things to say. Be especially cautious of trying to monetize an app directly or using ads when it’s obvious that the app itself is an ad for your brand.

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