I’m a bit of an app addict. Each time I setup a new phone, I install somewhere in the ballpark of 50 applications. That number varies, and over the year it has grown. The more apps I buy, the larger the number inevitably gets.
That also means I’ve spent a lot of money on applications. Between iOS and Android alone, I’ve probably spent upwards of $600 on applications, games, and other digital content. That may seem like a lot of money, but it’s been spread out over five years. And not everything was purchased at full price. In fact, a lot of the games, applications, books, and movies I bought from Google or Apple have been severely marked down in price, if not totally free.
Truth is, if you play your cards right, you can find all the applications you’re looking for on the cheap – or even free, if you’re patient enough. Here are some of the techniques I’ve discovered over the years:
Massive Google Play sales for milestones or holidays
One of the biggest “app scores” – as I call it – was during Google’s celebration of rebranding from Android Market to Google Play in March 2012. Several albums went on sale for $3.99, and each day, Google picked one album to sell for $0.25. But the brunt of the special was the 25 applications and games Google handpicked to sell at $0.49 each. I went through the list and picked up one of all the apps I didn’t already own.
After all was said and done, I had spent around $20, but walked away with over twice that in value alone.
Google has been known to run these sort of promotions for its own milestones. For instance, in December 2011, Google ran an Android Market sale in celebration of its 10 billionth app download. A handful of applications were chosen and sold for $0.10 a pop. Of course, I nabbed them all.
In fact, it’s running several sales on Google Play right now. I’ve bought some movies, some apps, and games this time around, too.
Waiting for this sort of thing takes a lot of patience and chance, though. So it’s really only good for some feel good impulse buying. But, hey, if the apps you want are on sale, then it was worth the wait, right?
Ask for iTunes or Google Play gift cards
The easiest and most straightforward method for not spending your own money on applications and digital content is to ask for gift cards for your birthday or holidays. Google Play and App Store gift cards in various denominations can be found in electronic retail stores around the world, and even in places like Walmart, Target, and even grocery stores.
These are my absolute favorite gifts to stumble upon in Dirty Santa or door prizes. And I wouldn’t be terribly upset if all I got for birthdays and holidays were gift cards to App Store or Google Play.
What if you don’t have a say in what you want? You can also save some money by finding deals on gift cards in-store. For example, Sam’s Club often runs deals near the holidays where you can pick up a $100 gift card for iTunes for $80. That may be a tough knot to swallow for some, but it’s $20 in free apps, movies, music, etc.
Google Opinion Rewards
Another solution is a newer one I’ve grown quite fond of: Google Opinion Rewards. The application is free in Google Play. Simply download it, login, and begin answering questions for Google Play credit.
Every so often, Google will send you a survey. Answer the questions, and your opinions are rewarded with credit to Google Play. So far, I’ve filled out around five or six surveys and have made $2.98, which I can now spend on movies, music, apps, games, books, magazines, etc.
Surveys are unpredictable. I haven’t received one in several weeks. So it’s not like you’ll make a fortune answering questions all day. But … free money!
App Shopper Social and App Santa
Apple doesn’t really run a rewards program for your opinions. Nor does it run any major promotions where applications are severely cut in price. That’s all up to the developers. But sometimes catching wind of such price cuts or sales is rather difficult, if you’re not looking for them.
App Shopper was an application I used weekly back in the day. However, Apple has cracked down on app discovery applications. But App Shopper relaunched with a social focus. It is now aptly named App Shopper Social.
When you open App Shopper Social, you’re prompted to follow App Shopper. Under the Friends tab, you can link your Twitter account. In the stream, you can filter applications by several different criteria – type of app, updates, new, price drops, iPad, iPhone, universal, and paid, free, or both.
Filter by price drops and begin searching through all the applications in App Store which have recently dropped in price. Tap the price listing, and you’re immediately shot into App Store where you can purchase the application on sale. I’ve found countless premium apps I still use today for free through App Shopper.
Currently, there is website called App Santa, which is promoting up to 60 percent off some top iOS apps. This one is worth checking out, but we can’t be sure how long it will stick around.
If you have your own method of pinching pennies when buying applications, games, and other digital content from Google or Apple, feel free to drop it in the comments below.
Happy hunting and happy holidays!