Only half of app users have paid for their apps, says survey

A new survey from the App Developers’ Alliance has revealed that only half of people who have downloaded apps have ever paid for them.

The survey of 1000 US consumers who own or use at least one device able to run apps, showed that, in the next six months, a third of current app users want to use apps more often, and a third of those who don’t use apps are planning on using them.

Perhaps worryingly, the survey notes “cost and lack of understanding” as reasons for not using apps.

Specifically, between 28% and 32% of respondents said that they didn’t want to pay for apps. This was more than the figure who were satisfied with their online browsers (22-30%), as well as those who didn’t understand or see the benefits of using apps (7-13%).

Intriguingly, the research also revealed that for most consumers, word of mouth was more important than how the app is rated in its app store in terms of buying new apps.

When asked the question “How do you typically discover or learn about the apps that you decide to download?” word of mouth (52%) came in higher than app store ranking (49%).

This of course won’t be a big revelation to developers struggling to make ends meet. While you may not be one of the fortunate ones who can benefit from RIM’s BlackBerry “10k Developer Commitment”, getting your app to make money has long been a stumbling block.

Frank Adriano, marketing manager at privacy app Loky, agreed, admitting that it took Loky a while to find a suitable business model and a product with which to charge.

“Most people expect apps to be free, the market distortion [is] around that,” he said, adding: “We think that putting ads on your app is the diametric opposite of having privacy, so we thought ‘okay, what other business models are around?’

“We’ve actually come into this conflux where people need offline storage, and so we thought that’s something that can be chargeable,” he added.

Also, according to a survey published by Gartner last week, 89% of total app downloads this year will be free apps, with nine out of ten paid-for apps costing less than $3 each.

According to Gartner research director Brian Blau: “App stores should support in-app purchases as soon as possible, as this offers a new path of monetisation, and helps to attract developers as they attempt to extend an app’s momentum by providing easy access to upgraded services and functionality.”

So how can you get your app noticed and get it making money? Or are there too many good free apps already out there?

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