How much money do you get per download?
“Please help!! I have a question!! How many downloads = how much money?”
This is a question I get asked a lot. Sometimes it’s from social media or a YouTube comment or sometimes I’m just emailed the question. When you hang around app developers or other people in this industry, it’s easy to overlook these simple questions.
The fact is you don’t get any money for downloads. At least, not in Google Play or the App Store. Amazon has Amazon Underground where you get paid for users using your apps, but I’ve not used it (and our Amazon download stats have always been poor).
Don’t you get any money for downloads? So, why do I constantly talk about download numbers? Because that is the first hurdle to get over.
When I meet with struggling app developers, the problem they have (in most cases) is that no one knows about their app and their downloads are poor.
I frequently compare having an app to having a store. You need foot traffic. If your store is in the middle of nowhere and no one knows about it, then it doesn’t matter how good your shop is. It might as well not even exist.
Conversely, if you have tons of foot traffic to your shop and no one buys anything, then you make no money (but you are popular).
If I had to choose from either, though, I’d rather have a store with lots of foot traffic (downloads) and few purchases because that’s a much easier problem to fix.
There are many ways for apps to make money, but the 3 most common ways are
- Outright Sales (your paid app)
- In-app purchases (purchases made within your app)
Of the three above, Advertising is probably the least understood. It’s much more difficult than many realize. You need tons of traffic before you can start seeing good returns. Our apps get about 5,000 to 7,000 downloads a day and make us a couple hundred pounds daily. So, for Overpass, the ads work. But they are up and down and we have very little control over that revenue.
Outright sales are the hardest. Whenever we’ve released a paid app without a free version, we say very little adoption. I mean, we’re talking single-digit downloads in some cases. What works best for us is a free version and a paid version. But the number of users who upgrade is still very small—so, we focus on the downloads.
Download numbers, while not an indicator of revenue, are the starting point.