5 types of apps that make the most money

10th Apr 2020
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Nowadays, mobile apps can cater to any customer’s needs and cater a diversity of solutions. Ordering food or taxi, planning a vacation or scheduling your work, studying a language or enjoying time while gaming are the incomplete list of opportunities you get on your smartphone. 


For users, the mobile apps are means of satisfying their practical needs or getting entertainment. For businesses, the apps are the source of revenue through selling customers a variety of useful solutions.

To create a revenue app, it is necessary to do a lot of preparatory work: 

  • to identify the target audience
  • to figure out their specific needs
  • to offer relevant solutions
  • to bring forward the idea distinguishing you on the market.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start the development itself by hiring in-house developers or outsourcing it to a mobile app development company. 

Mobile app market statistics

In 2019, the number of mobile users increased to 3.2 billion people and the figures are steadily growing. 

During the day, we constantly check our smartphones. Statistics show that Americans tap on the screens  every 12 minutes (or 80 times a day), and 10% of them check the screens every 4 minutes.

Our phones follow us everywhere. What are we mostly doing on our mobile phones? The research shows that 90% of time is spent on mobile applications.

The most revenue-generating types of apps

From this impressive statistics, there comes a new question. What kind of apps generate the biggest income to businesses?

Entertainment apps

Everyone likes entertainment, and your smartphone gives you an opportunity to carry all the books, movies, TV-shows, music, and games in your pocket. Among the the most prominent entertainment applications, there are Netflix, YouTube, Spotify.

YouTube is a video sharing platform that was founded in 2005 and a year later it was bought by Google for $1.65 billion. Now it has 2 billion monthly active users and 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute. In 2018, YouTube’s revenue was estimated between $9.5-$14 billion dollars.


Netflix is a video streaming platform for watching movies, series, and TV shows.  It was founded in 1997 and revolutionized the media industry. Now it has 148 million paid subscribers and makes about 30 percent of video streaming subscriptions. In 2018, Netflix’s revenue was almost $15.8 billion.


Spotify is an online streaming music service allowing you to listen to over 50 million musical compositions without downloading them on your device. Now Spotify has 217 million monthly active users with 100 million premium subscribers. During 2019, Spotify reported their earnings as €1.352bn, €1.667bn, €1.731bn in Q1, Q2, Q3 respectively.


Travel Apps 

The travel applications will facilitate the process of organizing both long-term vacation and a short trip to a nearby city. With this application, you can buy any tickets, find the accommodation, choose a restaurant to eat or a place for a cultural visit. Everybody heard of Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, and Tripadvisor.


BlaBlaCar is a ride-sharing application for those who are reaching another city by car. It allows the driver to find the passengers and to compensate for fuel expenses. For the passenger, it is a quick, convenient, and cheap way of traveling. The service operates with a commission revenue model charging 10% from each ride cost. BlaBlaCar does not publish its earnings, but its value already exceeded $1.6 billion dollars. 


Airbnb is a service for short-term apartment rental. Instead of staying in a hotel or hostel during your trip, you can rent an apartment locally. This will be cheaper, and there are lots of accommodation types available: apartments, townhouses, bungalows, villas, or castles. Airbnb offers appear in more than 5 million listings in 191 countries and about 65.000 cities. In Q2 2019, Airbnb reported more than $1 billion in revenue.


TripAdvisor will help you choose the restaurant or hotel with the best customer reviews. The service is free for the participants that generate the majority of its content and the main Tripadvisor’s revenue source is click-based advertising. In 2018, the platform generated approximately 730 million user reviews. In 2019, the company reported over $1.6 billion in revenue. 

Shopping apps

Shopping in a physical shop can be time-consuming because  you need to commute to the shop, see different variants of products, consult with the shop employee, stay a queue for check-out, and bring your purchases home. We are lucky to have different types of shopping apps that will help buy anything from food, clothes, technical devices to some unique goods. Here we should mention Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba.


Amazon is the world’s largest retail shop where you can buy literally everything from dollar trifles to technical devices worth several thousands of dollars. Started as an online bookstore operating in Jeff Bezos’s garage, in the first two months they spread their service across 50 states and 45 countries. Now Amazon is not just a shopping application, but also the biggest cloud service provider and hardware manufacturer in the world. The revenues of Amazon are also impressive: in 2018, the company reported $233 billion of income. 


Ebay started as an online auction being the first service of this type. Here the sellers could display vintage, rare or collectible objects and find the buyers online. Now, eBay is one of the biggest US companies with capitalization of almost $33.5 billion. The most expensive item ever sold on eBay is a $168 million yacht bought by the Russian magnate Roman Abramovich.


Alibaba is the largest Chinese B2B marketplace connecting the Chinese manufacturers with buyers all over the world. Now, their business infrastructure unites C2C platforms Taobao and Tmall, and B2C Aliexpress marketplace. Now, Alibaba shopping platforms have 654mln annual active buyers and their annual revenue in 2019 is estimated at $54.5 billion dollars.

Productivity apps

People in the modern world are prone to multitasking so self-organization and time-management skills are essential. The companies did not stand aside this trend and now there is a great number of productivity apps that help you organize your tasks and do more work in less time. Here we will name freelancers and office workers’ favorite choice, Evernote, Jira, and Trello.

Evernote is a cross-platform app that assists you in taking notes and navigating them in online or offline modes. If you prefer writing your notes by hand, you can take a picture and it can be immediately imported to Evernote. According to Crunchbase, Evernote’s annual revenue is estimated as $150 million.

Jira and Trello are solutions developed by Atlassian for managing projects and the teams. They will help you keep all your tasks in one place and track their status. All your projects are organized into separate boards.. You can change their statuses (“To do”, “In progress”, “Done”), set priorities discuss the tasks with the teammates, etc. In 2019, Atlassian reported $1.21 billion revenue that is 37% higher than in 2018.

Education apps

In the age of digitalization, you can get access to the terabytes of the information on your phone. How to make use of this opportunity? Of course, with studying! The experts predict that by 2025, e-learning market size will reach $325 billion, so the online education industry is extremely profitable. The most famous learning application in Google Play and App store is Coursera. 

Coursera provides online access to the courses from the world’s best universities. Here you can learn Arts, Math, Foreign languages, Programming, Psychology, etc. It was founded in 2011, but according to its CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda, the company is worth over $1 billion. Coursera works with big commercial and governmental organizations providing them courses for teaching their employees. For example, Adobe paid Coursera $150.000 for Machine Learning course. Recently, Coursera signed a contract with Abu Dhabi School of Government and will train 60.000 governmental employees in such skills as Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. 

How to develop a revenue-generating mobile application

All the applications we have spoken about, have become successful due to offering a perfect and fresh solution tailored to customers’ needs. Having achieved the first success, they continued working on scaling and improving their product. So, by considering their success stories, we can figure out some tips for building a revenue-generating application.

To develop the value proposition

Before thinking of types of apps to make, you should have a perfect understanding of your idea and potential target audience. What kind of problem will it solve? Does your audience really need your proposition?

To analyze the market

To start planning your application, you need to know if the problem is really actual to your audience. What solutions are available? What are their strong and weak points? Why will your solution be better than others?

To make the business model

Having researched your audience, you can start planning the future project. You will need to precisely define your value proposition, analyze your resources, plan the work with the future clients and calculate the future expense and revenue sources.

To plan the architecture

Here the development process starts. Even the application with a perfect value proposition will fail if there will be lots of issues pertaining to its development, usage, and scaling.

To start the development

When everything is done, you can pass the work to the development team. If you don’t have your in-house team, you can pass the development to a mobile app development company.

Conclusion

There are firesure winning apps we listed above that make the most money. With the proper strategy, you can make your own application that will bring you success. 

If you know the needs of your target audience, you are ready to discuss the idea and the implementation of your future application with our custom software development team.

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