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Top 6 Profitable App Categories Anyone Can Build

Igor Voitenko Writer

The average user has around 80 downloaded mobile apps, out of which 40 apps are used regularly, every month. We are all aware of how much time we spent on our smartphones – it’s almost 3 hours per day, which amounts to 35 days per year

For business-savvy types, it’s obvious that communication with customers via mobile apps is one of the best ways to establish a successful business, promote a brand, and amass an army of loyal users that will be happy to use the app if it provides an irreplaceable benefit which can enhance life in some way. 

Building an app can seem daunting if you have no idea of the costs and the development process, as well as the profits it can generate in return. There are so many apps and so many ways to meet a user need that the whole idea of building an app can seem very confusing. 

Questions and concerns like: “What is the best platform to build an app on for my user base – iOS or Android, or both?”, “What if my app idea is a massive failure?”, “What will happen if I’m late with the launch?” or “Can I build a profitable app in an area I don’t know nothing about?” can be quickly moved out of the way if you do a little research before you dive into app development. 

Successful Mobile Apps That Generate Revenue for Businesses

Before choosing a software development team that will work on a lucrative app for your business, it is useful to know which apps make the most money for their owners.

Certain app categories have made millions for their brands: these include music and video streaming or dating apps, for instance, Spotify, Netflix, and Tinder. 

Money-making apps usually have a large membership base and often depend on user communication – so the social aspect is there because user-created content is an ideal way to boost engagement. Apps could also solve a nagging user need, such as improve web privacy and security. 

Most profitable mobile apps, engage, educate, and entertain, and they do so on an almost daily basis. If you bring these three ‘Es’ together, it’s easier to get a fuller picture of the most profitable apps for brands: 

  • Dating apps
  • Fitness apps
  • Language learning apps
  • Kids’ math apps
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) apps
  • Wallpaper apps

When built by following clearly defined processes, these app categories are a sure hit rather than a miss. Knowing more about their benefits can help you narrow down the choice of app types you might want to focus on building. 

1. Dating Apps

Dating apps perform so well because they are accessible everywhere and take advantage of the smartphone’s capacity for representing visual aesthetics in a user-friendly way. It’s super easy to meet new people with the GPS on, take and upload pics with camera pixels increasing, and a mobile wallet at hand. Most dating apps make money by selling ad space to advertisers and with subscription models, including freemium and advanced features that unlock extra perks for a fee.  

Tinder

Tinder is a social dating app that helps users match, chat, and date by connecting them within a location radius. According to Sensor Tower, the estimated revenue and downloads per month for the most lucrative dating app amounted to $46 million in December 2019: 

Tinder revenue for Dec 2019 estimated
Image credit: Sensor Tower

Tinder’s monetization is based on a combined subscription model and selling ads. It is so liked by users that it is considered the dominant dating app with over 26 million matches per day.

Bumble

Thanks to its high standards for respecting people’s boundaries in the virtual dating arena, Bumble has successfully grown into one of the largest apps for meeting new people. Its solid membership base of 50 million people puts it among the top five profitable dating apps. The big bee app has a variety of in-app purchases to stimulate user engagement, such as Bumble Boost and Bumble Coins that cost anywhere between $1.99 and $49.99, depending on the scope of additional features the user gets. 

Badoo

Badoo has almost half-a-million users worldwide, possibly attracting them with the slogan for ”dating honestly”. It is accessible from iOS, Android, and a web browser. As a social app that focuses on free dating, Badoo lets users message each other if they match or send up to two messages if they don’t match. Badoo’s worldwide revenue for December 2019 was $4 million. 

Badoo screenshots
Image Credit: Sensor Tower

2. Fitness Apps

Athletes have a tough time choosing an app. There are over 250,000 fitness apps that help them compete with each other socially and/or professionally, track and compare results, measure body metrics, and improve performance. We can’t deny that many people love their sports. And when there is a chance to showcase results, self-improve, and even use modern IoT sensor technology to become a top performer, the next fitness app is just around the corner. 

According to Crunchbase, Strava, the well-known ‘ride, run, and swim’ fitness app has estimated revenue of $8.3 million annually. Another fitness app, Runtastic, the runner’s app, has partnered with Adidas to provide premium features to its users for a fee, including advanced statistics, personal records, and an auto-pause option. Other successful fitness apps which top the field include:

BetterMe

The name says it all – users get personalized workout plans and meals to become a ‘better version of themselves’. Users who hate or just don’t have the time for cooking can simplify calorie intake, weight and fat loss plans with the Calorie Tracker. As reported by Sensor Tower, the app had 400K downloads worldwide in December 2019.

BetterMe estimated revenue for dec 2019
Image Credit: Sensor Tower

8fit

Available in 6 languages, 8fit provides custom-made home workouts and a personal nutritional expert that monitors meal portions. The premium version called 8fit Pro costs more, up to $59.99 per plan, so this is one way to sell services to enthusiastic athletes. It’s a comprehensive app that focuses on both aspects of physical health, fitness, and nutrition, and has really used the powers of great design to help users find satisfying meals with low-calorie intake.

8fit screenshots
Image Credit: Sensor Tower 

30-day fitness

The concept of 30-day Fitness is to target users interested in fast-track physical shape improvement by challenging them to invest some effort into daily workouts for a month. This mobile app bodes well with the diversification of the audience that’s often present in fitness apps because it focuses on a specific need.  

Specialization of fitness apps is a major audience incentive. So if you can research market needs and come up with an idea for a tight-packed audience segment, it may well be worth investing in it by building an app.   

3. Language Learning Apps

Free online learning platforms and mobile apps for learning languages are pretty crowded online places since they provide plenty of opportunities for users to connect, exchange and share, and for businesses to monetize on that engagement. Users love language apps. They’re effective, which means you can acquire decent language skills by using an app. 

Student motivation comes from several reasons:

  • Enable learning from anywhere at one’s own pace without attending classes, 
  • Support informal learning,
  • Are easy on the user when making mistakes. 

You can generate revenues of language learning apps by selling premium video content, advanced training exercises, and books. The potential target audience includes frequent travelers, remote workers, and exchange students – almost anyone that needs to build informal language skills or use an app as an augmentation to formal classes.

Duolingo

Duolingo is a widely successful language app. It uses several money-making models, including ads and crowdsourcing, which lets students engage in translation. With so many generous features, the ads that show up between lessons are less annoying. 

Duolingo estimate revenue Dec 2019
Image Credit: Sensor Tower

As its forum suggests, Duolingo has good user retention rates, enabled by the retention tactics it continually builds upon. 

Babbel

Supported by Yale language experts that have participated in the content creation and with the help of native user voice content, Babbel has raised the oral language efficiency up a notch. Babbe sells premium language courses that are the least informal of all informal training. The mobile app targets users who like learning through conversation and has had 300K downloads and $1 million worldwide revenue in December 2019. 

Babbel screenshots
Image Credit: Sensor Tower

Busuu

Learning a language while making friends is the key selling point of Busuu. The app lets users create their own learning plans for 12 languages with the support of a 90-million member base. Busuu marked fast progress of 200K downloads and half-a-million dollars in worldwide revenues for December 2019 only.

4. VPN (Virtual Private Network) Apps

VPN apps have found their share of the market among Internet users who like having some control over the privacy and security of their connection. VPN apps can break the restrictions of Internet censorship or increase bandwidth. For example, a VPN can:

  • Help viewers get access to streaming channels, for instance, in locations without access 
  • Work safely in public areas, such as cafes and airports by using data encryption 
  • Browse content while traveling to locations that have blocked their favorite social media channels or websites. 

VPNs enable businesses to communicate remotely by extending their Intranet resources in a safe way.   

Norton

Norton by Symantec is the staple name of web security. By downloading the Norton app, users gain multiple benefits:

  • Get protection from advertising/cookie tracking 
  • Create their own private hotspots
  • Browse anonymously 
  • Change location, and 
  • Guard against cybercrime. 

You can see how VPNs like Norton can be a lucrative option for mobile app development. The Internet can be a downright annoying and risky place, so any extra measures that meet an important user need, such as privacy and security, are worth considering as an app idea.

Image Credit: Sensor Tower

VPN 360

VPN 360 provides super-fast servers for free access to online content. By purchasing premium subscriptions users get premium service. This VPN app is proof of how a simple idea – improving speed – can turn into a great money-making app when executed well. VPN 360 had 400K downloads and $400K in global revenue in December 2019.  

Best VPN Proxy BetterNet

This app masters encryption – it does it so effectively that it amassed $1 million in revenues and had 500K downloads in December 2019.

5. Kids’ Math Apps

Educational math apps are a genius solution to a universal problem for both children and parents: acquiring and building solid math skills in a fun way. They also make the job for teachers more pleasant. In fact, kids’ math apps have successfully turned the boogieman math used to be for many into a delightful, entertaining activity. Children love their mobile devices, in healthy doses, of course, and love games, too. Bring these two aspects together, enrich the app with skillfully designed features and visuals, and you get an educational tool with multiple benefits for a diverse audience!   

Math Learner: Math Games

Children use a proven learning methodology to go through levels, do exercises, and self-improve through practice. A concept that works well in gaming, conquering levels, has proven successful here, too, bringing $2 million in revenues for the app creators in December 2019.

Image Credit: Sensor Tower

K5 – Splash Math – Games for kids

Learning math in a fun way can be costly. Then again, a specific audience wouldn’t mind paying for a subscription if they get a huge issue solved. K5 looks more like a game than a learning lesson. But if it makes kids stick to the material and improve math skills, parents won’t mind investing in their education by getting in-app purchases. K5 Splash Math has collected $200K in revenues in December last year. 

3rd Grade Math Games for Kids

The third selection on this list is a bit more modest in revenues, with 20K downloads and $70K in revenues. However, it has a specific audience segment – children who have acquired basic numeracy skills and are ready to take the next step into more complex math operations such as division and decimals. The app helps them do that via gaming and eye-catching design features. 

Image Credit: Sensor Tower

6. Wallpaper Apps

Most users like personalizing their home screens and lock screens with beautiful animations and abstractions. Wallpapers apps capitalize on that. Since these apps require above-average design skills, outsourcing design to experts is a prerequisite for building a successful wallpaper app.

Live Wallpapers 4K

How to make sleek iPhones even fancier? Here is how: download a wallpaper app such as Live Wallpaper 4K and see the phone screen transform. Wallpaper apps provide a solid income to their originators, such as this one that has generated $700K in revenues and as many downloads in December 2019. 

Image Credit: Sensor Tower 

Live Wallpapers 4k Backgrounds

Device customization, screen animation, and dynamic wallpapers for everyone: this app has a very similar concept to the previous one but varies in execution. Therefore, it has found its audience in users with a different taste. Live Wallpapers 4K Backgrounds had $40 in monthly revenues and 70k downloads in December 2019.  

Image Credit: Sensor Tower

How Most Profitable Apps Compare to Each Other?

You don’t have to be an expert in a certain area to create an app for it. Mobile apps generate revenues in multiple ways. Advertising, subscriptions, in-app purchases, crowdsourcing, e-commerce, and referral marketing are just a few of the ways to monetize an app. 

If you delegate the job to experts in developing software for both iOS and Android and are willing to share a speck of their consultancy acumen, you will get answers to the most important questions. Software development companies can explain:

  • What is the best way/s to make money with your app idea 
  • How long it will take to build it
  • How much it will cost you, and 
  • What’s the app’s earning potential. 

Here is how the most profitable apps stand on the mobile app market and compare to each other in terms of their revenue-generating capacities:

How Most Profitable Apps Compare to Each Other
App category Cost for platform Timeline Requires content Potential revenue Ads costs
Dating apps $30K+ 4 months + No 5 5
Fitness apps $25K+ 3 months + Yes 4.5 4
Language apps $18K+ 3 months + Yes 4 4
Kid math apps $17K+ 3 months + Yes 3 3
VPN apps $8K+ 2 months No 3.5 3.5
Wallpaper apps $4K+ 1 month + Yes 2.5 2

Building an App: From Concept to Fruition

This guide has hopefully clarified some of the fog around choosing a profitable app. You don’t need some special knowledge to build an app from the described categories. 

Anyone can build an app provided they:

  • Have insights into which mobile apps make money and how they do it
  • Choose an appropriate monetization model
  • Follow properly organized processes of product development
  • Invest in professional mobile app marketing.

Keep in mind that although these are proven app ideas, they are not the only ones: unique ideas also have a big change to succeed with proper marketing and organization of business development.

If you’ve got an app idea and want to now how much it would cost to outsource the development to a trusted, reliable development agency in the Ukraine, check out Coidea’s app price calculator .

For advice, quotes or just to chat about your app ideas, contact us at Coidea agency today!

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