As of writing this article, the mobile app market is projected to reach USD 430 billion by the end of 2022.
They say always follow the money, so as a new year approaches, it’s time we look at where that money went so we predict where it’s gonna go.
Let’s check out some profitable app ideas to steal, baby!
In this article, we’re going to look at 7 profitable app ideas.
We’ll use real-life examples of successful apps, but what we’re really going to focus on is the idea behind them.
Why? Because we want you to take that idea and put your own spin on it.
Nobody likes a copycat.
Alright, onto the first app idea.
Hyper Casual Mobile Games
We’re by no means experts on mobile games, but they’re just too big to leave out.
As a category, mobile games are the most profitable type of B2C app.
But they’re also the most expensive to develop and maintain.
If we look at the list of top-grossing mobile games, we’ll see some common trends:
- extremely high production value
- lots of multiplayer options
- global ranking systems
- huge development teams
- high monthly overheads and maintenance costs
It’s great that users get to play these kinds of games on their phones, but making one from scratch as a non-tech founder isn’t practical unless you’re already loaded.
But do mobile games need these high-end features to be profitable?
Two words: Hyper-casual games.
Hyper-casual games are games with really basic mechanics and simple interfaces, but it doesn’t stop them from being fun – in fact, that simplicity is part of why they’re so fun!
We’re sure you’ve heard the amazing story of Flappy Bird, one of the simplest hyper-casual games ever – all built by one dude from scratch in just a few days.
It started making $50,000 per day.
Games like this provide a very valuable solution: braindead entertainment.
You have 10 minutes to kill, and want to feel like you’re trying without actually having to try, and you still want the reward of completing a task.
In other words, you want something to do while on the toilet (personally, we do our taxes).
Since sitting on the toilet is a very popular activity, there will always be space for a well-thought-out hyper-casual game, and we’d like to show you one particularly attention-grabbing example.
Note: brace your ears – they will be confused but by the end they will be addicted.
It’s a game called Save the Doge, and it came out this year and checks all the boxes of a hyper-casual game.
Plus, their ads use the most meme-tastic song we have ever heard.
The premise is really simple: protect the dog from a swarm of bees by drawing a barrier around it.
Let’s look at their Google store downloads.
Damn, 10 million.
What does that look like in dollars?
Well, a game like this makes money through ads, and there’s this thing called eCPM – cost per mille, or how much advertisers pay for every 1000 impressions – so if a thousand people see our ad, we pay you this much.
Appodeal has this really cool interactive map where you can see the eCPM for each country, and It ranges from 10 USD to 40 cents.
Let’s be super conservative, and say the eCPM for Save the Doge is 40 US cents.
Let’s also say just 20% of the ten million downloads belong to active users, so 2 million people.
These two million people see just one advertisement a day, every day, for a month.
That works out to $24,000 a month, which is nothing to laugh at.
This game is not trying to compete with the PUBG and Mobile Legends of the world.
It’s way easier to execute, you just need to think of something to occupy people for 5 minutes at a time.
By the way, this category is the only one in this list where revenue comes from advertising. For the following six entries, the apps make most of their money by offering a free version to entice users, then upselling them a premium version that has all the features of the app.
Cloud-based Business Services
‘Cloud-based’ has turned into a buzzword, but it’s an actually useful feature.
All it means is that a process is handled by a remote server and database.
Say you edit a photo on your phone with a cloud editor – your phone never does any editing.
It sends a request to an online photo editor, which then returns the finished product to your phone.
This actually means extra steps, and won’t work without that internet connection.
Why would people prefer that – in other words, what problem does a cloud-based service platform solve?
- Space – since the processing isn’t done on the phone, it takes up less device space
- Quality – users are not limited to their phone’s processor, giving someone with a lower-quality phone access to processes beyond their phone’s hardware capability
- Integration (the number one reason) – cloud-based services are often connected to other users and other clouds, making it super easy to share files with others.
The real-life example of cloud-based app we’d like to showcase: e-signatures, specifically DocuSign.
It allows multiple users to automate signing and sending media files to each other from any device.
DocuSign has over ten million downloads and is the most popular e-signature app on the market.
Is it any surprise that the biggest user demographic is businesses that want a simple and secure way to sign official documents?
The most recent reports (Oct 2022) show it’s made USD 645 million in revenue.
Of course, the scale of the app is huge, but the idea itself is simple: find a business process that can be simplified through digitization.
Why business process?
Because businesses will always pay for things that help them increase profits or lower costs.
Smartwatches are stupidly popular, with over 100 million units sold in 2021.
Of course, not all smartwatches are created equal.
Bigger brands will have much stronger processors, and some of the cheaper brands…are basically kid’s toys. But still, whether iOS or Android, these watches run apps!
If you can optimize an app interface to fit a really small screen and it’s a problem that can be solved by glancing at your wrist, you are tapping into a relatively new market.
Speaking of watches running apps, a very good example is…running apps!
Let’s look at Map My Run by Under Armour.
It tracks your total distance and the premium version comes with live GPS tracking and a bunch of other features, all of which are very accessible via smartwatch.
Since it’s something you use on the move, it’s definitely something people would rather just glance at their wrists to find out.
So think: what’s a type of app that makes you go “I would pay to have that on my wrist”?
Industry Giant Alternatives
What happened with Twitter reminded us that nothing is certain.
We won’t go into details, but we think it’s pretty common knowledge that in October 2022, Elon Musk bought Twitter, and immediately, made unpopular changes.
Very unpopular changes.
In one month, 500,000 users left for Mastodon, an alternative social media platform.
Now, Mastodon isn’t just a Twitter clone – it’s got some truly impressive unique selling points, but it’s not unfair to say that for its 500,000 new users, the main selling point was ‘it’s not Twitter’.
As far as revenue goes, it’s hard to say because Mastodon is crowdfunded and the actual code is open source.
Still, Mastodon is a social media app that users pay to use, and with another half a million users on top of its existing 500 thousand, safe to say it’s going to make a lot more money.
What’s the problem being solved here?
It’s that sometimes the #1 option can get a bit too cocky, thinking they can get away with anything.
Luckily, there’s no such thing as a monopoly in software unless you reach god-tier status like Google or Microsoft.
For the rest of us, the moment you prove a concept, there’s going to be a bunch of competitors who will be waiting for you to slip up, then they come in and take your market share.
All’s fair in love and war.
NOTE: Never create an app just to be a backup plan. Like we said, Mastodon was already profitable before the whole Twitter thing. So make sure your app has something unique to offer, and if you can combine that with also being a potential replacement, all the better.
Social Media Add-ons
This is much more common and smarter.
Don’t go against giants, work with them.
Think of Facebook, LinkedIn, Tiktok, and we guess now Mastodon as well.
People don’t just use them for fun; people use them for business.
And businesses don’t mind paying for things that help them increase profits or lower costs.
So whenever you have a tool or solution that helps people use or understand social media, people will pay for it.
If you’ve ever done any social media marketing, you’ll know that you have to use a social media scheduler, and many people also go for the premium packages.
But there’s so much more to social media than automating posts.
You have influencer matching, analytics, branding, and more – it’s become its own little industry.
We’d like to highlight another app that’s unbelievably simple but solves a huge problem, and because of that, makes an obscene amount of money: Linktree.
Say you want to advertise all your social media links, but a certain platform only lets you use one link.
Well, Linktree gives you a link to a simple page with all your other links.
For this simple solution, Linktree made USD 16 million this year.
Can you think of something that can help businesses of all sizes get more out of their social media, whether it’s a one-man brand working from home or an MNC with offices all over the world?
A marketplace app is where you create a space for people to come along and create notices to buy, sell, or trade a product or service.
The beauty of them is that they don’t have to be beautiful at all.
The main priority is always trust, ease of navigation, and specificity – how deep into a topic can users go with their search results?
To accomplish this, it’s always about one word: filters.
Hobbyists and people in the know about a topic love being able to filter their search results – price, brand, year of production, and any industry and product-specific categories.
This way you don’t have to compete with the giants like Amazon and eBay.
There is always room for a niche marketplace – people go here to buy and sell one specific thing, whatever that may be, and our real-life example is Remote OK.
It specializes in job ads for remote working positions across the world and is currently the market leader, with an annual revenue of USD 1.6 million, and a TINY headcount of 3 employees, which is why the founder enjoys a 90% profit margin.
90% of USD 1.6 million!
We’ve used this as an example because we want to show that you can even zoom in on a subtopic of a subtopic and still find high demand.
Check out this job listing; already at 260K views and 39K applications in less than a month.
Marketplace apps make money by charging sellers (in this case employers) a fee to put up a listing.
On top of that, it takes a commission off of any successful sale.
That’s right, you get to double dip in the sauce like the savage you are!
So go on then: think of a niche marketplace with high demand.
The problem online educational apps solve is also obvious: they allow learners to learn at their own pace from anywhere they want.
Let’s take the language learning app Duolingo.
As of Q3 2022, it’s made USD96 million.
What about the musical instrument learning app Simply Guitar? USD 800k monthly.
Even something gross (we admit we have a subject bias) like math tutoring app Math 42?
What do all these learning apps have in common?
One, they offer online learning for in-demand topics – things like second languages and guitar techniques already draw in millions in physical lessons.
Two, the actual execution always involves topic experts.
With Duolingo, the syllabus for each language is prepared by native speakers.
For Simply Guitar, actual guitarists are involved in creating and curating the learning content.
Not only does this make the app credible, but it also helps to deliver results, which lead to positive reviews, more users, more results, and boom – positive feedback loop.
So, can you put those two things together:
- an in-demand learning topic, and
- access to genuine experts for content creation
If yes, you’re onto something.
Which profitable app idea piques your interest?
So, what should you do now?
Go for a walk.
Take a bus.
Try out a new restaurant.
Go window shopping.
Basically, live life.
And try to spot tiny inconveniences that normally slip under your radar.
Think of how technology could solve them.
Ideas are nothing but solutions to life’s problems, and call us cynical, but the world is full of them.
When you think of a way to make life easier and that much more enjoyable for people, get in touch and we’ll help bring your quadrillion-dollar idea to life.
Merry Christmas and all the best for 2024!
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