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What are some examples of economic models concerning revenue flow to innovators of free mobile apps?

When one visits Play Store, mobile apps are either premium or free to download. For those who conceive, then make arrangements to develop a free mobile app, what are some examples of how they then make money from their idea? For instance, many helpful free apps show no sign of advertising. Some have terms & conditions which require accepting sharing certain data from one's mobile device (suggesting the app owner then sells that data to interested buyers).

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Probably the biggest money maker is in app purchases (think games like Hayday where you can buy diamonds to quickly advance in the game). Another is product placement / sponsorships (think weather.com background images from Chic-fil-a).

Thanks. A specific example: Go to Play Store and search for "Medicine Reminders'. Many apps are listed. "Medical Assistant - your complete medical partner" by Jazzy Architects is rated 4.5 (reminders, appointments, news, search). Downloaded that free app then navigated it. I added a doctor, a med, plus checked news in app. There was no sign of any advertising anywhere in app. How does Jazzy Architects make money with the user free, ad free app?

Anonymous User

Hi John,
I guess you answered you question : some apps are lead generation tools that are then sold to the relevant companies.
Apps can be a way of providing free content and great value to an audience, capture email addresses and build a mailing list : the money part comes later down the sales funnel. Exposure is key nowadays and I believe there is a enormous opportunity for the businesses who innovate. Saturated App Stores? Think twice! Most of the apps are games, most of the apps are never downloaded, most of the apps are deleted 48 hours after they have been installed.
Businesses CAN get great exposure and targeted audience with barely any competition at the moment : try "London Pizza restaurant" on the apple Appstore and you will find 20 results only. Now try on google.co.uk!..

to sum up :
- generating leads and re-sell them
- build an audience
- send promotions and deals
- generate awareness
- give value

I hope this will help!


Good thoughts, thank you Romain. Of the five items in your summary, the 1st & 3rd could be revenue streams with distribution deal(s) & affiliate marketing deal(s). The 4th & 5th help grow the 2nd, which then get monetized with 1st & 3rd.

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