In-app purchase (IAP)
In-app purchase (IAP)
An in-app purchase (IAP) allows users to purchase within the app for additional content or features.

What is an in-app purchase?

An in-app purchase (IAP) refers to a feature in a mobile application that allows users to purchase additional content, features, or virtual items within the app.

Use cases of in-app purchase by industry

  • Gaming: In-app purchases are popular in mobile gaming as they allow users to purchase additional levels, characters, or virtual currency.
  • Entertainment: Streaming entertainment apps often use in-app purchases to offer premium subscriptions that unlock additional content or features.
  • Social Media: Social media apps use in-app purchases to sell filters, effects, and additional features.
  • Education: In-app purchases are used in educational apps to provide access to additional content such as quizzes, study guides, and practice tests.
  • Health and Fitness: In-app purchases are used in health and fitness apps to offer personalized workout plans, meal plans, and tracking tools.
  • Photography: Photo editing and camera apps use in-app purchases to offer additional filters, effects, and editing tools.
  • Productivity: Productivity apps like Trello, Evernote, and Microsoft Office allow users to purchase additional features such as cloud storage, advanced collaboration tools, and integrations.

What are some different types of in-app purchases?


Consumables are in-app purchases that can be consumed or used up, such as virtual currency, lives in a game, or additional filters in a photo editing app. Consumable in-app purchases are popular in gaming apps and can be a great way to monetize your app by allowing users to purchase additional content or features.


Non-consumables are in-app purchases that are permanently unlocked, such as additional levels in a game, premium features in a productivity app, or ad removal. Non-consumable in-app purchases are a great way to offer users ways to unlock premium features or content within the app and can be an effective monetization strategy for apps that provide a variety of content or features.


Subscriptions are another type of in-app purchase. These allow users to access content or features for a recurring period of time, such as a monthly subscription to a streaming service or a weekly workout plan in a fitness app. Subscriptions can be a great way to generate recurring revenue, but it is important to make sure that the user is aware of the charges and the duration of the subscription. There are two types of subscriptions: Non-renewing subscriptions and auto-renewable subscriptions.

Non-renewing subscriptions

These subscriptions are for only a specific time and will not renew automatically. Non-renewing subscriptions are useful for apps that offer limited-time access to a specific feature or service.

Auto-renewable subscriptions

These will automatically renew the subscription until the user cancels them. Auto-renewable subscriptions are great for providing an app with a more stable source of income.

Pros and cons of an in-app purchase


  1. Revenue generation: One of the most significant advantages of in-app purchases is that they allow you to generate revenue from your app. In-app purchase is a great way to monetize a free app or to offer additional revenue streams for a paid app.
  2. Premium features and content: In-app purchases can be used to offer premium features or content within your app. Premium paid features can provide a way to monetize your app while also providing added value to users.
  3. Recurring revenue: Subscriptions and auto-renewable subscriptions are in-app purchases that allow you to generate recurring revenue from your users. This can provide a more stable source of income for your app and help you better predict revenue over time.
  4. Increased user engagement: In-app purchases can lead to increased user engagement and retention, as users are more likely to keep using your app if they have made a purchase.
  5. Access to user data: In-app purchases can provide valuable data about your users, such as their payment history and purchase preferences. This data can help you better understand your users and tailor your marketing efforts to target the most engaged and valuable users.


  1. User experience: In-app purchases can disrupt the user experience if not implemented correctly. Users may feel pressured to make a purchase or need clarification about the costs associated with in-app purchases.
  2. Subscription management: In-app subscriptions can be a great way to generate recurring revenue, but it is important to make sure that the user is aware of the charges and the duration of the subscription and also has a clear understanding of an unsubscription process.
  3. Revenue fluctuation: In-app purchases revenue can fluctuate over time, depending on factors such as user engagement, app updates, and competition.

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