Is Freemium Still a Good Choice for Apps, or are Paid, and Everything Else in Between Catching Up?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, free apps are still more popular than their paid counterpart. Statistics portal Statista has revealed that, during the third quarter of 2017, 94.24% of all Android apps could be downloaded for free. Of course, there are a number of apps that combine both elements, such as the freemium model. Hopefully, by end of this article, one should be able to understand the different between freemium, and paid applications.

With a freemium app, all of the basic features are offered free of charge, while certain features are gated and require a payment to be unlocked. The benefit to the user is that he or she can get a good feel for the app, before deciding whether or not to pay for the full version. That makes this topic more interesting, and worth reading. Since, our smartphones are grounded by applications, you should be certain about choice, and make a worthy decision.

The freemium model has grown in popularity in recent years, on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, in particular. Of course, there are other app models, which we’re going to look at here. So, lets get started with our discussion about these two kind of applications.

Image source: Pixabay.com


With free-to-play, you’re playing the same game, whether you decide to pay or not; you just have to put up with the ads. Free-to-play apps are free downloads that require one or more in-app purchase for full functionality, as opposed to charging a flat fee upfront. Spotify is an example of this model, where users can listen to full albums free of charge but must pay to unlock the full version, which omits the radio-style advertising.

Demo mode

Some apps offer demo modes to provide the user with a taste of what to expect. While much of the functionality of the live platform is included in the demo, there are key differences between the demo version and the full version. An example of an app with a demo mode would be IG, which provides a risk-free demo trading platform. The user can trade in the forex market and other markets in demo mode, for example, until he or she has mastered the platform.

Paid apps

Paid apps are probably the most straightforward model, with the user purchasing the app from a platform such as Google Play store. Statista reports that the average cost to buy an app from one of the main two providers, the App Store and Google Play, in the first quarter of 2018 was $4.37.

As the developer requires an up-front investment from the user, the apps’ features are more heavily showcased in their Google Store listing more so than with freemium apps. This allows the user to make a more informed decision, before deciding whether or not to download the app.

Paywalls (subscriptions)

The paywall app model is a close relative to the freemium model, with the key difference being that it emphasizes content over features. Users can view content up until its predeterminded cut-off point for free. At this point, they’re shown a promotion to sign up to a paid subscription to view the content in full. An example of an app employing this model is Umano, a media app that turns news into podcasts. Users can listen to a set amount of stories before they are asked to take out a premium subscription.

Sponsorship (incentivized advertising)

Perhaps the newest app model, sponsorship involves a partnership between the app developer and advertisers. These advertisers provide users with rewards upon completion of certain tasks. RunKeeper was an early adopter of the sponsorship model. It uses incentivization to encourage its users to keep on coming back if they wish to access exclusive promotions and rewards.

Image source: Pixabay.com

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, and competition more intense, it’s safe to expect more innovation, and a move towards more blended app models, in future. Don’t forget to share your valuable thoughts about this article in our comment section.

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