When it comes to apps, free is best. New research finds consumers are willing to accept ads in their apps to avoid paying for their favorite iOS or Android apps. According to Flurry, the number of free apps available in the App Store and Google’s Play store continues to rise.

Matter of fact, the trend toward free apps has grown to comprise 90 percent of applications in Apple’s App Store. The overwhelming vote for free means the average iPhone app cost nineteen cents, with iPad apps averaging fifty cents.

For Android apps, the fascination with free is even greater, driving the average cost of apps using Google’s mobile software down to just six cents…

Flurry Analytics writes at the company’s blog:

Contrary to the desire for an ad-free experience, when faced with the choice between free apps with ads, or paying even $.99 for apps without ads, consumers overwhelmingly choose the free apps and tolerate the ads.

Since 2010, the percentage of free iOS apps has grown from 80-84 percent to 90 percent.

The findings indicate “people want free content more than they want to avoid ads or to have the absolute highest quality content possible,” the analytics firm said.

The company found iPad owners pay 2.5 times as much for apps than iPhone users. The disparity is partly due to iPad owners having higher incomes on average than other device owners, Flurry reasoned.

Flurry 2

The average Android app costing just over a nickel suggests users of Google’s mobile software are even more intent on owning free apps and more willing to put up with in-app ads.

What about developers, who provide the engine for any app store? Experiments with pricing found apps first released as paid entries increasingly switch to free. In 2010, 65 percent of apps released with a price tag eventually shifted to free.

The difference between iOS consumers and Android cheapskates
Comic illustration by ExtraLife, published by Mashable.

By 2013, 80 percent of paid apps in Apple’s App Store moved to free, according to Flurry.

“This implies that many of the developers who ran pricing experiments concluded that charging even $.99 significantly reduced demand for their apps,” according to the Thursday report.


In June, Apple introduced new tier pricing for its international App Stores.

The change was supposedly designed to better mirror U.S. pricing. Earlier this year, some countries, such as Australia, complained Apple’s iTunes stores were charging more internationally than at home to account for the weak dollar.

The end result of the research is a belief by Flurry that in-app advertising is here to stay. The goal now is to make such ads the least-frustrating and the most-valuable for app consumers.

  • Boss

    App is free but yet they expect you to spend $200 worth of add-ons to complete the game

  • Dani Hayes

    I am not worried about ads nor in-app purchases as I have Flex to handle most ads and in-app and locallapstore for in-app purchases. Both ads and in-app purchases ruin apps and games. I would rather pay .99¢ for no ads though.

  • Eldaria

    There are not more free apps. A majority of the apps in the free section, also show up in the apps vith most revenue. Strange huh? I’m so fed up with Apps that require continious in-app purchase. Yes i’m also counting those games that have a time limit on play, unless you pay. I don’t mind paying an in-app purchase to permanently unlock the app. so for example kind of shareware, where you get to try the app, before you decide to upgrade.

  • Average apps are free if you know how to download it.

  • Alex Muzz

    Isn’t this because everyone feels safer and does put money on their iTunes account whilst no one really feels they can trust google with their bank details or they don’t know how to put money on their google account.

  • Byron C Mayes

    The average Android app is barely worth “free.” They look terrible, they offer useful content maybe 50% of the time (have you seen the Dark Sky implementations on Android?), and many of them don’t work on all reasonably current models. And did I mention that they look cheap?

  • Byron C Mayes

    Regarding the iPad, I’m not so sure income level is the only driving factor. I’m much more likely to pay for an app on my iPad than on my iPhone. First, when I’m using the phone it’s usually for quick lookups — weather, banking, sports scores, Shazam/SoundHound, etc. — which don’t keep me online long enough to be bothered by the ad; when I’m on the iPad I’m more likely engaged long-term working or gaming or researching or creating and an ad is more likely to be a bother. Second, iPad ads are bigger and when I’m on my iPad I want my screen real estate and I want all of it.