Making money from photo apps is still more art than science, according to a new study by Suite 48 Analytics. Even when their user demographics and use cases are similar, photo app developers differ greatly in how they monetize their apps, reflecting differences in legacy business models, financial resources, or strategic goals.

The Monetizing Photo Apps case study analyzes how four prominent software developers monetize their popular portrait-enhancement apps: Lightrick’s Facetune, ArcSoft’s Perfect365, CyberLink’s YouCam Perfect and YouCam Makeup, and Athentech’s . All four have common use cases – improving portrait photos (primarily selfies) and user demographics (primarily young females).

  • Facetune deploys only one monetization method – charging for the app – and has been the number 1 paid app in over 100 countries.
  • Perfect365 uses a rich mix of monetization methods for its millions of users, including in-app purchasing, advertising, integration of e-commerce for beauty products, and the ability to order printed photobooks.
  • YouCam Perfect and its sister app YouCam Makeup are gearing up to be monetized in various ways but the company has chosen, so far, to forego any revenues in favor of rapidly growing its user base and user engagement. This includes the recent launch of, and integration with, Beauty Circle – a beauty-focused social community site.
  • Perfectly Clear is offered as a paid B2C app but the company also licenses its core technology, or the complete app, to its B2B partners.
Making money from photo apps is still more art than science
Making money from photo apps is still more art than science

“Whereas some of the tried-and-true methods, such as charging for apps, can still be – perhaps surprisingly – lucrative, implementation makes all the difference between a moderate and a runaway success,” according to Hans Hartman, principal author of the study. “For instance, discounting the app price can do more harm than good unless the optimal incentive amount, timing and prospect targeting have been determined – all of which require rigorous testing and analysis,” he added.

The study also discusses a number of innovative monetization methods, including in-app e-commerce integration, data-driven advertising optimization, and photo print product offerings.

“These new models show great promise,” said Hartman, “but they’re still being fine-tuned in the marketplace. We’ll take an in-depth look at how they’re working out in our Monetizing Photo Engagement panel at the Mobile Photo Connect conference on September 29.”

The 16-page free white paper contains observations and takeaways for each of the major monetization models:

  • Paid model
  • Free with in-app purchasing model
  • Advertising and e-commerce model
  • Photo print products model
  • B2B licensing model

The white paper can be downloaded at


Photo by HealthGauge

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.