Build a Paid App and a Free App at the Same Time

Many developers are now looking at pursuing a dual strategy of building a paid app and a free version at the same time. This strategy allows you to establish a following for your app from the start, obtaining possibly thousands of downloads of the free version, along with sales of the paid version. Conversion rates from free apps to paid apps are around 1% according to some developers. Therefore, it takes 1,000 free downloads to generate ten paid app sales. Keep in mind that some apps can achieve hundreds of thousands of free downloads, if not millions, so your free app may be able to generate considerable sales of your paid app.

The more free downloads you get, the closer you are to being shown on one of the Top Paid or Top Free download categories on the Android Market. Placement of your app in the top listings in your specific category (Health and Fitness, Lifestyles, and so on) can catapult your sales. Figure 14.2 shows an example of the top paid apps and free apps in the Health category. If you open up the list, the Android Market shows the top apps in that category, both paid and free.

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Figure 14.2 Top free and paid apps are shown by selecting tabs off the main page for the Health category of the Android Market.

The challenge to creating a free app and a paid app is that you may have to maintain two apps for the Android Market. This depends on whether you developed the free and paid apps separately over a period of time. If you are going back to develop a free app, you'll have to decide how you want to build your app. Most likely you will take the original paid app and modify the original code to limit its features so that you have a limited-function free app. This is probably the easiest and fastest way to come up with a free app when you already have been selling a paid app.

The other option is to develop both the free app and the paid app at the same time. You develop the app from the ground up, with all the features available, but you disable some of them for the free version. In the free app, you can invite users to purchase the full app and instantly upgrade them to the full-featured version. As shown in Figure 14.3, the developer of this app has created two versions of the app.

In the next example, shown in Figure 14.4, the developer of this app released both the paid and free versions on the same time. The buyer can choose to download the "Lite" version of the app or purchase the paid app instead. If the free version is downloaded, and the user likes the app they can always purchase and download the paid app at any time.

Figure 14.3 This developer released a free version first and then followed up later with a paid version of the app.

FlightStats Lite for Android

Developer: FlightStats

A free flight tracking application now with saved flight searches. Android Ul auto-suggest and saved flights make it easy to search for flights, airport and airline info. Results are displayed on the FlightStats mobile Web site. Ad supported. If you prefer an app without ads, use FlightStats for Android - a paid app.

Figure 14.4 Both paid and free versions of this app were released on the same day.

Amazingly, a number of free apps on the Android Market don't have an ad for their paid version to prompt the user to upgrade. If you are going to have a free app available, I highly recommend that you prompt the user to upgrade and purchase your paid app.

Many game developers are offering free and paid versions of their games as a matter of course. They update the games at the same time and post to the Android Market at the same time. This is becoming the norm as a marketing strategy for game development on the Android Market and really any smartphone market. If you are a game developer, think seriously about offering both free and paid versions right from the start. Two examples are shown in Figures 14.5 and 14.6.

Wave Blazer - LITE

Developer: PolarbitAB

Take on the most outrageous powerboats in the world! Wave Blazer will take you through beautiful scenery, city enwronments and even fetid sewers. This lite version prowdes one level playable in singleplayer and multiplayer. FULL version available on Android market or sliderne.com

Take on the most outrageous powerboats in the world! Wave Blazer will take you through beautiful scenery, city enwronments and even fetid sewers. This lite version prowdes one level playable in singleplayer and multiplayer. FULL version available on Android market or sliderne.com

Figure 14.5 Game developers are increasingly offering both free and paid apps right from the start.

PingPong Lite

Developer: snctlnSoftware

Simple table tennis game. Updated to support more phones This "Lite" version contains advertisements. The "Pro" version allows for 0% finger space for true full screen game play and removes all of the ads. it sells for only SO 99 www.snctln.com

Simple table tennis game. Updated to support more phones This "Lite" version contains advertisements. The "Pro" version allows for 0% finger space for true full screen game play and removes all of the ads. it sells for only SO 99 www.snctln.com

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Figure 14.6 Another example of a free app that has helped cross-promote sales of the paid app.

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