Would you pay for your favorite free apps??

Saw a fun study in my inbox this morning and thought I’d play along ;)

Maybe one day companies WILL charge us for some of these apps?!

Have you ever considered the value you place on your favorite free apps? Many services remain free thanks to advertising. But what if things changed?

…In a recent study, we set out to measure the value regular users placed on 16 of the most widely-used apps, asking respondents what they’d pay if a subscription fee was required. They had the option to say they would pay nothing and discontinue use, without access to a free alternative.

Here were their results:

what would you pay for favorite app

So basically the least amount of people would pay for Facebook, haha, and the most would pay for WhatsApp. With YouTube coming in with the most people would pay for an app and Yelp falling all the way at the bottom.

Surprising? Maybe a little… I’d think Google Maps would be at the tippy top considering what an INSANE tool it is for most of us, but maybe people would rather pay for other similar apps like Waze? Also interesting to see Reddit score so high, along with Google Translate?! I honestly don’t know anyone who uses translate much, no less who’d be willing to pay for it…

At any rate, here’s what I’d pay for each if ever asked (and I haven’t been ;)):

  • Youtube — $0.00
  • Google Maps — $10.00/mo, maybe more?
  • Google Drive — $0.00
  • Facebook — You’d have to pay ME!!!
  • LinkedIn — $0.00
  • FaceTime — We don’t have that for Android 🙃
  • Reddit — $0.00
  • Venmo — $0.00
  • Instagram — $0.00
  • Facebook Messenger — $0.00
  • WhatsApp — $0.00
  • Twitter — $5.00/mo
  • Google Translate — $0.00
  • Pinterest — $0.00
  • Snapchat — $0.00
  • Yelp — $0.00

So basically I only use two of the 16 enough to really want to pay for them. And a quick glance on my phone would pluck out a few more that I’d happily pay to continue using as well:

  • My banking app (USAA) – $5.00/mo
  • Amazon app – $3.00/mo
  • Ebay app – $2.00/mo (don’t judge!)

So looks like I’d be out an additional $25/mo – or almost exactly what I pay for service to begin with! – if apps ever started charging, haha… Not the worst, but not preferable either ;)

Really makes you think about all the crap you have on your phone though and what you truly “need” vs what you don’t… Remember the time when phones literally only made phone calls??!! (You shut your trap if you don’t! ;)) I like to think of it as the Zack Morris era! Haha…

zack morris cell phone gif

At any rate, interesting things to think about as you never know how the app world will play out over the years… Seems to be doing pretty well as is, but money does a lot of things to people!! And as the survey shows, we’re pretty addicted enough to pay for this stuff!

You can see the full results via McGuffin here if you’d like: Research Shows How Much Value Consumers Assign to Various Apps. They also detail how much $$$ these apps would make if they did ever implement some of these charges – pretty wild…

PS: You know what I DO think is coming sooner than later?? A dumb phone revival!! You’re starting to see it pop up here and there in blogs and “hipster talk”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these companies start pumping out some sleek minimal phones to help people simplify more and cut out all the clutter… I’d be interested in testing it out at least and seeing if I have any hope left! :)

UPDATE: A friend sent me over this article on a phone a lot of “digital minimalists” are now switching too – the Nokia 3310 (Amazon affiliate link). The revolution is starting!!! ;)

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  1. The Poor Swiss August 21, 2019 at 5:18 AM

    That’s a very interesting study. I just wish they surveyed more people. 2004 people are not really representative.

    There are few services I would pay for in the list:
    * Youtube
    * Google Maps
    * Google Drive

    All the others, I would stop instantly to use them if they become paid services.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jacq August 21, 2019 at 7:48 AM

      Many of my teacher friends report using Google translate as classroom diversity increases. ESL students don’t attend some classes with their peers, but do for others, including science which involves a lot of reading and vocabulary to learn the concepts and then English comprehension is needed for tests & quizzes too!

      I rely on Google maps to choose my commute, as my specific area doesn’t make it onto the radio traffic report unless something epic happens, or is a glancing ‘everything looks fine / is normal’, and then there are ‘normal’ slow spots.

      There are vlogs I enjoy on you tube, but I haven’t gone for paid service to avoid ads at this point. Considering they already offer it, and there are now typically 2 ads before a video, and sometimes one or two after, I feel like you tube is to be ‘making bank’ and think turning the service into a paid app would put a lot of people off.

      I don’t think dumb phones would make as big of a comeback, because of how much people text / use messaging apps and many people don’t like using the phone. It’s a convenient way to stay in touch without carving out time to talk. I can text people to find out how their weekend was while waiting for the microwave at work, or for a file to load at my desk without bothering my coworkers, or having to calculate if the recipient is available.

      It will be interesting to see what the future of phones holds.

      1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 9:20 AM

        Dumb phones can still text!! And call, but that’s about it :) Hopefully they keep the camera though as that’s also pretty handy..

        Very cool teachers use translate for their classes! I bet that makes things easier for everyone!

  2. Gene Roberts August 21, 2019 at 6:28 AM

    Those “free” apps can get expensive.

    I just upgraded my smartphone yesterday because the old one wasn’t smart enough.

    Ironically, it was to be able to use a “free” app. :) The old phone wouldn’t work with NFC required to read my new continuous glucose meter sensor.

    On the downside, I shelled out almost $1500 for the newest Iphone XSmax. Which makes the free app pretty pricey.

    But on the upside, I was upgrading from an Iphone 6 plus that was almost 5 years old. So I buy on the high end but use the device until the electrons stop flowing (or won’t perform a function I need).

    Also on the upside, no more fingersticks 10 times a day to monitor my blood glucose. Yeah!

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 9:23 AM

      Oh wow!! I can’t imagine how advanced all the health stuff gets with technology over the years… I still remember getting some iPads when they came out for some kids that were severely autistic and couldn’t speak or anything, and as soon as they started playing with them they were able to “speak” through the ipad to their parents :) one of the most beautiful things ever!!!


  3. Mel August 21, 2019 at 6:36 AM

    I’d love a dumb phone revival!

    The only reason I feel like I could never give up my smartphone is literally the navigation app. I’m shocked it wasn’t top of the list too and I agree around $10/month (shhhhhh! no one tell Google!).

    And I do love me some Venmo, but that price is too rich for me. Maybe I’d be willing to stick with the convenience for $1/month. I’m surprised the Clock app didn’t make the cut! I’d probably be willing to pay a few dollars a month to keep that. It’s definitely my alarm clock and I use the stopwatch function and timer function all the time.

    This reminds me of when digit started charging and everyone was like NOPE. I wonder how they’re doing with that now. I absolutely loved that app when it was free.

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 9:25 AM

      Haha yeah – EVEN THOUGH DIGIT SAVED PEOPLE THOUSANDS!!! I remember one person telling me it completely changed their life and now had like $4,000 banked for the first time ever using Digit, and then as soon as they started charging she bailed out… Hopefully she’s now on a path towards saving by herself, but dang – over $2.99?! I actually haven’t caught up with them in a while now but I still very much believe in them (and think they’re doing just fine :)).

      And yes to the clock app, haha…

  4. chris August 21, 2019 at 9:40 AM

    I never thought about this. The only one that I would likely pay for would be Twitter. And likely would not want to pay too much for it.

    Free is for Me!


  5. Slacker Jo August 21, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    I would be lost without the library book app Overdrive/Libby. I have a long commute and a lot to carry on the bus so having my books in digital format makes a huge difference.

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 2:59 PM

      Maybe worth shooting them a donation to tell them how much you appreciate them? ;)

  6. Jen August 21, 2019 at 10:31 AM

    I remember a time when phones had cords and getting the newer cordless models were all the rage (don’t laugh – you’re a year or two older than me). lol I love the idea of dumb phones becoming popular, but I would find it difficult to go back to one due to the navigation apps. I had thought about buying a GPS unit for my car if I went that route, but I also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to update the maps (if that is still a thing). I don’t have to worry about that with my phone anymore, but never say never. I definitely agree with you and I would actually pay for the Google Maps app and maybe You Tube (but half the amount above) because they both have practical functions. You Tube has a ton of good plant specific gardening advice. I am only on anti-social media (i.e. – none), and I never pay to stash or move my own money someplace. When I needed money transferred in less than a day between two banks I actually walked to the ATM at one, removed the cash, and walked across the street to the other bank’s ATM to avoid paying for expedited transfer fees that one bank had at the time (worth it!). :-)

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:00 PM

      I’ll have to look into that anti-social media idea, haha…

  7. Financially FIt Mom August 21, 2019 at 10:50 AM

    Hahaha; I don’t even know what WhatsApp is?!

    I’d be all in for a dumb phone again! The only reason I ever gave mine up is because I could go from $50ish a month to $10ish a month on Republic Wireless, but dumb phones weren’t supported. Yes, I had to buy a new phone, but at $125, it quickly paid for itself with the service plan.

    I’d actually be for going back to land lines and 25 cent pay phones! *Ducks and covers head for anticipated stoning*

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:01 PM

      I love land lines!! People used to answer them a lot more!!! :)

  8. Joe August 21, 2019 at 10:59 AM

    The only one that I might pay for is Google maps. It’s really convenient. However, I could get by without it and did for many years. I guess it would offset the cost of paper maps.

  9. Chris @ Mindful Explorer August 21, 2019 at 11:04 AM

    I think my list would be roughly the same with those top 4 and I’m surprised that LinkedIn is way up there. All the other key apps on my phone revolve around mountain biking, hiking and running which are pretty important apps to me.

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:02 PM

      Yeah – who uses LinkedIn that often on their phones?! I get using it on the computer, but a necessity on the phone?

  10. B.C. Kowalski August 21, 2019 at 11:19 AM

    I’d have to seriously think long and hard about paying for any of the apps. Do we really need any of them? Messenger would be tough for me to be without, since I communicate with sources on it a lot. I barely use Google Maps, because my GPS on my phone doesn’t work right any more, and also because the street names are impossibly small and sometimes I can’t even get them to show up at all. It’s hard for me to fathom that a company the size of Google can’t get this UX right. One would think at least if someone selected a route, it would make those street names larger so a person can actually see them. OK, rant over lol

    I used to use translate a lot when I was reading Japanese. It was helpful to have a manga in front of me and translate right there. I think even then, however, I wouldn’t pay for it when I could just pop up my laptop and use it.

    For another rant (I turned 40, I get to be a curmudgeon now), I’m sick of all these subscriptions. Just let me buy a thing and be done with it! OK, I’ll go ride my bicycle now and stop complaining (which fortunately doesn’t have a subscription fee…)

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:03 PM

      Haha… i actually don’t mind subscription fees, but ESPECIALLY for charity giving… The one sure fire way for me to give every single month to places I love without having to remember or forget or really even think about! now have about 7 places I give monthly to and feels so good…


  11. Lisa H August 21, 2019 at 11:52 AM

    I remember when Google Maps first came out (or a variation of it) and it cost $10 a month. I PAID THAT! It was totally worth it. It is also the only app I would pay for again. I could drop the rest in a heart beat. Ok, maybe not Libby/Overdrive but . . . . . I have books on CD still . . . . : )

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:05 PM

      They used to charge for it??? Fascinating!!!

  12. Chris ODonnell August 21, 2019 at 12:03 PM

    I do actually pay for Google Drive – $24 a year for 100GB which I use as my back up server for photos and MP3s.

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:06 PM

      That’s not bad…

      You would pay a lot more to recover precious files if you weren’t backing them up!

  13. Nita August 21, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    I have no idea what Venmo is.

    Thing is, I rely much more on my desktop computer than on my phone, so the list of apps I’d be willing to pay for would be much larger on the desktop. For the phone, Google Maps, the antivirus and maintenance apps, my to do list app, the weather app and the tab-splitting app (for going out with friends, that’s just the best: it’s so easy to keep count who owes whom how much).

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:06 PM

      Exactly… most things are 100x easier to do on the computer too so you wouldn’t be totally out if you nixed them from your phone.

  14. Liz Philips August 21, 2019 at 1:14 PM

    Re: dumb phone revolution

    I was super excited about the revival of Palm (circa Fall 2018) – they came out with a super small companion phone device that was designed to enable you to be free from your regular phone for those times you want to shut off (parenting, date night). It was available through Verizon though and I’m on T-mobile. But really cool idea.

    1. J. Money August 21, 2019 at 3:07 PM

      They’re ahead of the curve!! Just wait – more dumb phones are coming!! :)

  15. Moneybee August 21, 2019 at 4:56 PM

    I thought you’d mention that the majority would pay for Venmo! To me that shows some financial awareness and responsibility, if people value something that makes it easy to get paid back and pay others back.

    Well, the question was about free apps, so I don’t have to consider my music app of choice, my messaging app of choice, and Tasker, all of which I’ve paid for.

    I’d pay a good amount for Maps. I’d pay slightly less for my finance aggregator app. I’d pay a couple bucks for my trail-tracking app. I’d probably pay a couple for my sky map app, at least until I learn the constellations better. I’d pay a few bucks for Duo, which is how I call my parents and grandparents to talk, since the cell signal at my house is so bad.
    I wouldn’t pay for games, my bill scheduler app (I’d go back to logging into everything to schedule it), or the app that syncs my OneDrive with my phone (I’d do that by hand though it would be annoying). El doctor would have to use his own phone to show me random YouTube videos (I’m sure he’d pay for it).
    Whether I’d pay for Facebook would probably depend on how many of the long-distance relatives decided to pay for it. If they all decided not to, I wouldn’t either. If a bunch of them did, well, number one I wouldn’t want to be left out of everything that happened between the every-couple-years-if-we’re-lucky get togethers, and number two I’d feel guilty making it look like learning constellations and tracking my walks and hikes is more important to me than keeping in touch with family.

    1. J. Money August 22, 2019 at 1:30 PM

      Good point on whether others pony up for Facebook too! Would be no point if none of your close friends/family decided to keep it around…

      (What’s the “finance aggregator” app btw?)

      1. Moneybee August 22, 2019 at 2:19 PM

        PocketGuard, most similar thing to Level I could find when Level was no more.

        Now that I think of it ‘finance tracker’ app might have been a better term. But the biggest benefit for me is being able to see all of my balances without logging into, what is it now, five different places? Oh right I have the 401(k) now! Six places! :-)

        1. J. Money August 22, 2019 at 3:00 PM

          Haha yeah… always helps being able to see everything in one spot :) Much better odds of catching things!

  16. SuperDuper August 22, 2019 at 7:54 AM

    Of course, I prefer to pay! If you get something for free, YOU are what is being sold!

    1. J. Money August 22, 2019 at 1:30 PM

      Stop being so smart ;)

  17. Tony August 23, 2019 at 3:50 PM

    The thing is that for most of these apps, the content is all created by the users (reddit, Youtube, etc…), so eliminating a large percentage of the user base would eliminate a huge amount of content and make the apps less appealing. To me, it’d be a fine line between enormous revenue and corporations signing their own death notes.

    1. J. Money August 23, 2019 at 5:03 PM

      That is true… they need us as much as we “need” them.

  18. Monica August 25, 2019 at 9:41 AM

    I would love to know more about the demographics breakdown especially age and income. My college aged sons know their data is being sold, and have know real problems with it. They like the targeted ads as it is less to deal with when they are looking for something, or at least a starting point. They have definitely had some impulse purchases but nothing outside what their current limited budget can handle or I frequently get sent a link that would make a great gift. I can buy it and save it for Christmas or birthdays.

    It would be interesting to see if the quality of content improves overall since people are paying they aren’t going to want to wade through junk to get to useful, especially for sites like Twitter.

    I also wonder why people think that if the phone app was a paid subscription, they could just use it for free on the computer. I imagine if I need to pay for Google, it won’t matter where/how I access it.

    Interesting to think about. I do pay to be part of a couple of groups that use an app to communicate and share. So clearly I am willing to pay for something and I realize that an efficient use of my time is worth paying for. I think I would probably use fewer apps that are probably more distracting than anything else (ie social media) but would spend more time on what I really want to do (ie creative endeavors). It may be better in the long run.

    1. J. Money August 27, 2019 at 6:42 AM

      I like that route there ;)

      Something to consider tweaking in our lives even if apps don’t ever plan on charging! So many time suckers out there trying to steal our lives, haha…

      Thanks for chiming in.