What Are the Most Profitable Apps? [2021]

Austin Betzer
Posted on
November 26, 2021
Minute Read

Whether your app is still an idea or you’re already relying on it for revenue generation, it’s important to understand what apps are the most profitable in 2021.

Understanding which categories of apps are the most popular among users, which apps generate the most revenue, and how these apps are monetized is the first step for a successful development project.

Related: Everything to Know About Custom Mobile App Development

So, let’s take a look at popular mobile app categories and the most profitable apps on the market.

The 5 Most Popular (and Profitable) App Categories

First, let’s look at which app categories are the most popular Android and iOS users:

1. Entertainment

It shouldn’t surprise you that the entertainment category is one of the largest ones—everyone loves to be entertained. Many of the top apps in the Apple and Google store have to do with media entertainment. It’s a broad category and encompasses various services that are mostly based on streaming different content like TV shows, sports, music, and movies.

Successful entertainment apps need to either create their own content, allow their users to create it, or gain the streaming rights of whatever content it plans to show.

2. Social Media

Apps that revolve around social media are extremely profitable and popular with people and businesses alike. They’re used for much more than personal communication, like connecting with people who share your interests, consuming various media types, and playing games. Businesses use social media for product marketing and to connect with their customers on a more personal level.

Millions of people use social media apps each day for communication, entertainment, shopping, and more.

3. Gaming

In both major app stores, gaming apps have always been widely popular. Apple and Google even offer subscription services that millions of people use to gain access to a library full of mobile games for a monthly fee. One of the biggest reasons that gaming apps are popular and profitable for developers is the multitude of ways that they can generate revenue, including:

  • Ad content
  • One-time purchases to remove ads
  • In-game transactions
  • Upfront costs

4. Dating

Dating apps have grown in popularity (and profitability for the devs) over the last few years. People are willing to spend on services that help them find quality connections with others around them. Especially during the middle of the pandemic, when many people looked for social interaction in a more virtual way, dating apps became an even more attractive way of meeting new people, driving revenue up for the popular dating app companies like Tinder.

5. Health & Fitness

The MedTech industry has grown massively over the years with the rising popularity of wearable technology connected to health and fitness apps. People buy these apps and wearables to track their health metrics and optimize their daily fitness routines. And, because advancements in wearable technology keep coming, the market for these health and fitness apps is only getting bigger and bigger.

5 Of the Most Profitable Apps on the Market

An android phone showing the downloaded apps

Now, let’s check out five of the most profitable apps that you can find on the market in 2021:

1. Netflix

Even though in 2018 Netflix stopped selling its subscriptions on app stores, it is one of the most profitable mobile apps of all time. While they were still selling subscriptions on Google Play and the iOS App Store, Netflix was the highest-grossing mobile app by far. The company generates billions of dollars each quarter consistently through its services.

Because of the large fees that Apple and Google charge developers when users purchase subscription services, platforms like Netflix that operate on a subscription-based model quit allowing purchases on mobile, but users can still take advantage of their subscriptions on the mobile app. As an entertainment app, Netflix is the gold standard of profitability.

2. Spotify

Spotify is an entertainment app that changed the music industry almost instantly. Not only does the company generate a massive amount of revenue from subscription services similar to Netflix, but it also sees a significant amount of profit from its free version due to advertising revenue. Like Netflix, Spotify removed the ability to purchase subscriptions from the app stores, but that has only increased their profitability overall. 

3. Tinder

Tinder, the popular dating app, changed the way that these types of apps, and the modern dating experience, work. It’s one of the most profitable non-entertainment apps on the market. It generates revenue in multiple ways, including selling extra swipes, premium accounts, super like, and more. The dating app has been around for about ten years, and its popularity and profitability just keep on growing. Its swipe left or right UI made modern dating easy and game-like for its millions of users.

4. TikTok

While TikTok is a much newer social media app, it became extremely popular in a short amount of time. The app has sucked in millions of users worldwide and generates significant revenue from advertising like most social media platforms. However, it also generates profit by selling in-app purchases similar to what you’d find in many mobile games. While they’re not as profitable as ad revenue, it’s still a significant revenue stream for the popular social media app.

5. Facebook

You can’t mention social media without talking about the largest platform worldwide: Facebook. Not only is it the largest social network, but it also offers live streaming, a marketplace for buying and selling, games, and more. Facebook also owns other extremely profitable apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. While the primary revenue generated for the app is selling advertising space, it’s also monetized in a variety of other ways. With over 2 billion users worldwide, it’s no wonder that this social media app became such a profitable venture for developers.

Related: 7 Strategies on How to Get an App Made

Creating a Profitable Mobile App in 2021

Facebook & WhatsApp: Two profitable apps in 2021

There is so much profit potential in creating mobile apps in 2021. The most profitable ones provide great services, entertain their users, and generate profit through various sources like subscriptions, in-app purchases, and upfront costs.

If you’re unsure about which direction to take your app in or what the best way to monetize it is, Strides is your partner to guide you through the app development process.

Austin Betzer
My only passion is helping others solve meaningful real-world problems. I will continue to do just that!

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