Almost nobody pays for virtual goods in apps, but those who do shell out a lot

Need more lives.
Need more lives.
Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision for King Digital/AP Images
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The upsell has proven to be an incredibly popular business model for mobile developers, who entice new users with apps that are free to download, like the highly addictive game Candy Crush Saga, and then sell them extra lives and other virtual goodies for an additional cost. Of course, developers don’t call this practice upselling. They refer to it as in-app purchases.

Though the business model is prevalent, especially for mobile games, the vast majority of people don’t give in. A new report released today (June 30) from mobile analytics firm AppsFlyer reveals that only 5.2% of mobile users make in-app purchases. But this small subset on average shells out $9.60 a month per app. Overall, when looking more broadly at the 100 million users studied for this report, the average in-app purchase came to 50 cents per app.

Across the globe, Asia has the highest share of paying users, who also spend the most on in-app purchases. Among these users, the average purchase size is $10.65 compared to $8.80 globally.

Zeroing in by platform, iOS users are 50% more likely to pull the trigger on in-app purchases compared to their Android counterparts, and they spend far more too. Among paying users, the average purchase on iOS was $12.77 versus $6.19 on Android.

Here’s a breakdown of how much users who pay for in-app purchases spend per app by category: