The Real Cost Of Free Apps

The Real Cost of “Free” Apps

Of the hundred apps dominating the iTunes Top Grossing list most days, nearly all are “free”. How can they be generating the most income when nobody has to pay to download them?

Tactus Therapy has written a great article detailing The Real Cost of Free Apps. Their article focusses on apps relevant to speech therapy, but it is equally relevant any app store app with or without a relevance to special needs.

All apps require work to create, so why would some developers not charge for their work? There are many reasons why an app might be free.

Tactus go over eight different types of “free” apps in their article:

  1. Totally free apps
  2. Apps with free trials
  3. Ad-supported apps
  4. Apps which access an ad-supported site
  5. Apps which support a brand
  6. Apps with in-app purchases
  7. Apps requiring a subscription to use them
  8. Apps which are only sometimes free, or only free for some people

For each type, they provide examples relevant to speech therapy and describe the real cost to the consumer of using that app.

Back in 2014, Kate Ahern wrote a great article about the real costs of premium AAC apps where she took twelve commonly used high quality AAC apps and evaluated what it would cost to use them for five years. The results may surprise some – the actual five-year cost for some apps was many hundreds of dollars higher than the price quoted in the app store. Kate published a table with the article which showed exactly how she calculated all her figures too, for the curious.

The message from both articles is surprisingly similar – the price quoted on the app store may not reflect the actual cost to use an app fully, and users should be wary of this. It’s often apps that appear to be cheap or free up-front which have the highest hidden costs.

– Ricky

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