Most subscription apps don’t make bank

A new report found that the median monthly revenue for subscription apps at one year old is less than $50.

Bummer news if you were planning on quitting your day job to become an indie mobile app developer: Most of them don’t make that much money.

A woman looks at her phone. A banner behind her readers, “subscribe.”

A new report from RevenueCat, which offers subscription tools for mobile app developers, looked at data from the 29k+ apps it supports, per TechCrunch.

It found:

  • The median monthly revenue for apps at least one year old is less than $50.
  • The top 5% of apps generate 200x more revenue than the bottom quartile one year after launch.
  • Just 17.2% of apps ever exceed $1k in monthly revenue. Of those that do, ~35% grow to $5k/month, but only 3.5% hit $10k/month.

Any good news?

The industry is still growing, despite subscription fatigue and consumers spending less amid inflation. There are also other ways for apps to make money — a 2024 prediction surfaced by Revenue Cat and the experts it consulted in its report.

For example: While games have long offered in-app purchases, Dan Layfield, founder of Subscription Index, pointed out that Tinder monetizes by allowing users to buy “super likes.” Other strategies could include in-app ads or affiliate marketing.

Cool. Any other cool predictions?

Here are two:

  • Jenny Kay Pollock, founder of Women and AI, predicts an increase in AI features akin to DuoLingo’s new Max subscription, which uses ChatGPT to build personalized language lessons.
  • Steve P. Young, founder and CEO of App Masters, thinks the move is to build not just one big app, but a portfolio of smaller apps that appeal to niche markets.

Here’s a niche app for free: Merlin, powered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, helps you identify birds.

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