The “freemium” model is consolidated in the market for apps, but in what sectors?


23 January, 2014

The “freemium” model is consolidated in the market for apps, but in what sectors?

In 2013 the  “freemium  model “, which combines free downloads and in-app purchases,  was a leader in mobile application stores, capturing 98% of market share in Google Play and 92% in Apple Store. This is one of the most important conclusions we can draw from Distimo’s annual survey, exemplified perfectly by the phenomenon of Candy Crush  (the popular and addictive game by King). However, not all sectors are opting for this mixed model. We rely on the data to try to explain the future of apps related to cultural tourism.

What can the cultural institutions learn from the mobile entertainment market? The first thing we should ask ourselves is in which category do we place apps for museums, heritage towns, historic monuments, etc. Given the current listings and categories of Google Play and Apple Store, it would make sense to include the apps on sightseeing in one, some or all of the following sections: entertainment, education, travel or even games. It will depend, in any case, on the orientation and usefulness of each app. In the top 10 of the most popular categories in download stores are “games”, “entertainment” and “education”. We found no reference, however, to the “travel” section.

But … for which content is the user willing to pay? this question is the basis of the results which are reflected in this report. If one of the goals of mobile technology is to generate additional income, careful planning must be put into the app so that its content attracts the consumer. Regarding mobile games and entertainment, as can be seen in the cover image, an overwhelming majority opts for offering free apps and charging for certain content within the tool itself (in-app purchases). This is not the case in educational applications, as 56% of them cost money. Moreover, quality  is a determining factor when competition is high, and it is increasing daily in the information society.

In this context, those who manage exclusive content acquire unparalleled advantages. Consider, for example, the case of a museum. Each gallery hosts a number of unique pieces or which arouse a special interest. The contents translated into other languages ​​also become exclusive for tourists who prefer autonomous visits to group visits. This is the same tourist who rented audio guides, with the difference that, today, he would probably prefer to download a free app, with which he could acquire exclusive content, translated into his own language. An app that allowed him to pay only for what he is interested in.

Contents in Spanish also have a clear competitive advantage, because of the growing interest in learning this language in extracurricular contexts and through alternative methods. Also, according to Hosteltur, tourism in Spain has been driven in the last year by travelers from emerging markets. To make the most of this opportunity, as Distimo concludes, we should bear in mind that it is in countries like China or Japan where users are more accustomed to downloading apps. In short, strategic direction, marketing, quality and exclusivity are the four necessary components for any cultural institution wishing to charge for all or part of its contents in the mobile market. So far, the joint option has reaped the greatest successes.