There are only two reasons why a business would invest in a custom iPhone/iPad app. It’s done as part of a marketing campaign to increase exposure in the mobile world or it’s done in an attempt to generate revenue. If the app was developed solely for marketing, then generating revenue from it is not a priority.
However, if the app is intended to generate revenue, then some considerations need to be given as to how the app is going to best accomplish its task. There are three common methods that a business can use to generate income from their iPhone/iPad app:
Charge for the App
This is the first idea that everyone gets when they’re building an app for profit. It’s not a bad plan. Charging for the app in the beginning does insure that you’ll generate revenue from every person that uses your product.
The big downside to this is that with the majority of apps on the App Store being free to use, luring users to your pay-to-use app may present a problem. Of course, if there’s true value to using your app, and you can demonstrate that to potential users, through marketing or free trials, then perhaps this is a suitable revenue stream to pursue.
This is the big one. Offering users items to purchase through the iPhone/iPad app is the main revenue stream for all of the big app developers. The trick is to offer the app for free, with a complete feature set and then charge users for expanded or additional content.
This is big in the gaming app world. Users get hooked on the original game, which they got for free, and then they have the option to buy additional virtual items to make the game more involving.
Consider developing your app with multiple levels of content. Include the basic stuff within the original app for free, and then charge a small fee for extra content or functionality that the users can pay for without having to leave the app. It’s a proven method for generating large revenues from apps.
Use the App to Drive other Revenue Streams
An iPhone/iPad app doesn’t have to generate income directly in order to benefit your bottom line. Consider an app as a marketing tool. A method for spreading marketing material like coupons and discount coded that will prompt users to make purchases in person or on your website.
The mobile app can also be used to advertise your products, redirecting the user to your already established e-commerce site to complete the sale. An app with this functionality would require considerably less resources to develop, reducing your investment, while providing a boost in sales to your existing revenue streams.
Real revenue is possible for your app by following one of more of these techniques. Depending on the nature of your app, it may be better suited to one or the other, or perhaps even a combination. Just remember, don’t let the quality and functionality of your app suffer in an attempt to generate revenue. You can’t make money from an app that nobody wants to use.