Designing your app for earning

There are lots of ways to make money from your app. You can decide which of these strategies work for you.

Selling digital goods

Digital goods are virtual items that are offered and sold from within your app to increase app revenue and user retention. By offering digital goods that are attractive to users, you can entice them to stay longer in your app (retention), come back to your app after being away (visits), and promote your app as something that adds value (marketing).

Digital goods are also a good way to increase conversion rates since the purchasing experience is built into your app and requires minimal effort by the user.

Screen showing a digital good purchase in the Run in Crowd game.
Here are some examples of digital goods:
  • Games: Access to exclusive levels, custom avatars, or additional powers or abilities.
  • Music and video: Access to additional content, ability to download files, or removal of ads.
  • Productivity: Exclusive themes, customizable interfaces, additional help, or tutorials.

If you choose to offer digital goods in your app, you should consider items that add value to the experience. Offering a special power in a game, for example, is effective only when that power can alter the outcome of the game. It also helps to offer goods that support the purpose of your app. Charging money to change the name of a player isn't likely to generate interest but offering in-game currency to purchase bigger engines for a racing game is valuable. Users learn quickly and know which items are useful and which items aren't. Their post-purchase experiences affect their overall impression of the app.

Since digital goods have the potential to increase the amount of data your app has to process, it's important to design the app to accommodate the expected upgrades. If a user purchases an additional game level, for example, you can provide them the level by using a download or by unlocking data that's already included in the app's binary. You do not upload any binaries or file bundles to BlackBerry World for later distribution. This upgrade must not incur significant impacts to the performance of the app. Users notice. You should determine how an update affects file system access, media performance, graphics rendering, or any other activity that impacts the user's interaction with the app.

It's also important to design digital goods so that they're discoverable within the app and easy to purchase. The ability to purchase a digital good must be obvious to the user, such as offering a storefront within your app. The process must be easy, such as offering a one-click interface. A user would never purchase an additional theme if they could never find it and they would be less likely to purchase it if the experience is slow or difficult.

For more information about how to implement digital goods in your app, see Selling digital goods.

Selling subscriptions

Subscriptions let users regularly receive digital goods over a specified period using automatic purchases. Through a regular renewal process, users receive updates without having to perform any additional work inside the app. Subscriptions are all auto-renewing but you can set a lower rate for the initial period, which allows you to tailor your pricing model to your user's needs.

Examples of subscriptions are: regular updates to a recipe planner, weekly access to special events in games, or monthly additions to magazine content. Subscriptions are convenient for both you and your users since the delivery of digital goods is recurring, automatic, and at a known price.

If you offer subscriptions to your users, they expect the regular updates to add value to your app. Your app must be maintained over time, adding new content or capabilities that keep users interested. The same design guidelines for single-purchase digital goods apply to subscriptions: they should follow the core purpose of your app and not impact performance, otherwise users will quickly decide that the subscription isn't worth it.

For more information about how to implement subscriptions in your app, see the Payment Service APIs.

Encouraging social connections

Connecting users together is an effective way to increase app revenue because it encourages users to share information socially and gets them talking about your app. When you bring more users to your app and keep them interested, you have more opportunities for earning money. It could be something as simple as sharing a recipe with like-minded people or something more psychological, such as encouraging competition among game players. The power of social networks can drive users to your app because friends can see which apps are being used and it can motivate users to stay within your app because they are communicating with people they know.

You have two options to connect users together using BlackBerry 10: the BBM Social Platform and the Scoreloop SDK.

BBM Social Platform

The BBM Social Platform allows you to connect to the BlackBerry Messenger communications service that is deeply embedded into every BlackBerry 10 device. This service allows users to find each other, send messages and media, and maintain contact lists and profiles. Here are some interesting facts about the BBM Social Platform:

  • Apps connected to the BBM Social Platform are 15 times more likely to be downloaded (BlackBerry internal, multi-country study, January 2012)
  • Over two thousand apps connected to the BBM Social Platform averaged a 50% growth quarter-over-quarter in the past year (September 2012)

The BBM Social Platform can be integrated into any type of app by using the BBM Social Platform APIs. For more information, see BBM Social Platform.


The Scoreloop SDK allows you to embed social gaming features into your app, such as user profiles, leaderboards, challenges, and awards. Games are the most common type of application for the Scoreloop SDK, but you can use its features, such as measurements, achievements, and rewards, and apply them to any type of application to motivate and engage users.

For example, with a recipe app, you can add the ability for users to connect to each other through This image shows a Scoreloop profile. and establish achievements based on the number of positive ratings a recipe receives. This approach encourages users to submit and share more recipes that are likely to get positive ratings which, in turn, encourages user recruitment and retention.

Screen showing a Scoreloop profile.

Integrating advertising

Advertising is a key strategy for earning money for app developers, and it is a compelling opportunity for advertisers. You can earn money by advertising your own apps or you can earn money by placing ads in your app and selling these opportunities to advertisers. It is important to use well-established metrics. There are two key metrics for monetization, CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) and fill rate (how many impressions yield an ad) when you enable advertising. You also want to avoid alienating your users by using inappropriate ads.

For more information how to build ads into your app, including best practices for user experience and performance, see Advertising Service.

Last modified: 2014-05-14

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