The hype surrounding mHealth apps is going from strength to strength. But at the same time, barely a fraction of publishers have been able to find a way to monetize it.

According to the 6th mHealth Developer Economics Report that has just been released by our media partner Research2Guidance, the lack of ROI is the primary reason behind the moderate growth of the core business. 

So you can say that we have yet to see a major shift or a breakthrough. But this doesn’t mean that the industry isn’t evolving.

Here are some highlights from the report:   

  • Approximately 75% of mHealth publishers today are on both platforms (iOS and Android), but other platforms still don’t play an important role
  • It’s a crowded marketplace with about 100,000 mHealth apps added in the last 22 months
  • Demand for mHealth apps has slowed down
  • Various mHealth publishers are now getting connected (Apple HealthKit is the most common API)
  • mHealth developers have gained more experience
  • Companies are becoming smaller and more altruistic 
  • Most mobile health publishers (60%) make less than $10,000 per year
  • $10 seems to be the most money the target market is willing to pay for an mHealth app
  • Health insurance providers are expected to become key players in this niche
  • The market is expected to grow by 15% over the next few years as more mHealth apps get integrated into the healthcare system
  • This segment will mostly be a consumer/patient driven market
  • The patient journey and follow-up monitoring will be the most important aspects of the market (reducing readmission rates)

Slump in mHealth App Demand

Although the hype in this segment seems never ending, there are signs of saturation when it comes to demand. Having said that, you have to take into account the fact that downloads have almost doubled over the last four years and it’s projected to reach $3.2 billion by the end of the year.

This is in line with other app market categories where the growth of devices that can download apps has also slowed down in the Western hemisphere.

Competition is Fierce on the Supply Side

Even with overall demand slowing down, competition has been steadily growing on the supply side. This is reflected by the 57% growth of mHealth apps in app stores hitting a total of 259,000 apps.

This can be attributed to the expansion of mHealth app portfolios, publishers, and multi-platform publishing. The reality is that supply is exceeding demand with 58,000 publishers that are currently active in the market.

Still, there are no signs of this slowing down and the consequence of this will be a congested marketplace where it will be extremely difficult to stand out.

Multi-Platform Publishing has Become the Norm

Approximately 75% of mHealth app developers are building apps for both iOS and Android platforms. Further, these two platforms have a higher share of exclusive developers when compared to HTML5 and Windows Phone.

Only about 14-16% of developers build mHealth apps for all three platforms. With new entrants to the market each day, it’ll be interesting to see if this changes over the next couple of years.

What’s driving new entrants is the immense expectations that have been surrounding the future of mHealth market value. Further, these companies are also expanding their presence in the market by expanding their portfolios.

When Apple opened up its App Store for native apps, the mHealth market experienced a boom and it hasn’t slowed down just yet. But things can obviously change over the next few years as the market will have to plateau. 

For more details about the mHealth apps market at the end of the third quarter, you can download the 6th mHealth Developer Economics Report here.

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Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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