How Do Free Apps Make Money on Today’s App Store?

How Do Free Apps Make Money on Today’s App Store? Image

Below we discuss some of the monetization strategies for free app creators to recoup their investment.

In-app Purchases

In-app purchases are another popular monetization model for free apps. In-app purchases involve offering users the option to purchase additional features or content within the app. This model is particularly effective for gaming apps, where users can purchase in-game currency, power-ups, or unlock new levels. This is also related to the Freemium model discussed below. Where users can unlock portions of the app or features for a price.

Freemium Model

The freemium model is a hybrid model that combines the features of free and paid apps. Freemium apps offer a basic version of the app for free, but users can upgrade to a premium version to access additional features.


One of the most common ways free apps make money is through advertising. Advertising involves displaying ads within the app, which can be in the form of banner ads, interstitial ads, or native ads. Advertisers pay app developers to display their ads to app users, and app developers earn a commission for each click or impression.

Subscription Model

The subscription model involves offering users access to premium content or features for a recurring fee. This model is commonly used for entertainment apps, such as music streaming and video-on-demand services like Netflix and Spotify.

Referral Marketing

Referral marketing involves incentivizing users to refer their friends or family to the app. For example, a ride-sharing app might offer users a discount on their next ride if they refer a new user who also takes a ride. This strategy can be effective because it taps into the power of word-of-mouth marketing, which is often more trusted than traditional advertising.

Above are some strategies that free apps use to make money on the App Store.

Chad Jones Photo
Chad Jones Photo
About the Author

Chad Jones

Chad is the Founder and CEO at Push and was a former Apple Engineer before returning to Saskatchewan to revolutionize the mobile development world. Chad is passionate about creating efficient, well-designed software.