Almost all apps are developed to make money. So do free VPNs. Generally, most VPNs are free for users to download and install. But some of them offer in-app purchases, which means that you can only use their services after paying for them. While some apps charge users before they can download and install the apps. The vast majority of such apps are utilities that are necessities, popular apps that attract many users due to their curiosities or games.
In fact, it costs a lot to develop and operate a VPN service. Here is the main cost of a VPN app:
Build many servers around the world and maintain these servers to make sure they work normally.
Design VPN applications for various platforms and keep on upgrading the program.
Operate an official website to provide vivid descriptions of your app and tech support to your customers.
A professional team to support the development and maintenance of a VPN.
Thus, VPNs have to make money if they want to survive but don’t have other economical supports.
The paid VPNs charge their users to make profits. They maintain and improve their VPN services by charging a subscription fee. However, free VPNs should find other ways to make money. In most cases, free VPNs are suspected of revealing user privacy. If you are wondering whether there are any good free VPNs, keep on reading.
How do free VPNs make money?
The freemium model allows some users to use the product for free while making money from the other users who pay the subscription fee. Here are 3 common types of the freemium model.
Limited user time
This type of business allows users to use it for free within a certain period or for a limited number of times. After that, if users want to continue using the service, they have to pay for it.
Limited number of users
In this freemium model, only a limited number of users can get free access to its service. If the number of users exceeds this limit, it will charge you! This usually refers to service for a group of users.
Limit the features
Only a few basic features are available for free users. To enjoy all the features, you should subscribe to the VPN service. For example, some VPNs only allow free users to connect to several servers. So, a free user has to purchase a subscription plan to use all the servers of the VPN.
Ads are often seen in apps. I suppose you have found many ads when using apps. It is the most common method of converting traffic to revenue, which is indispensable for almost all apps.
The form of the advertisement varies according to the app. Startup pages, banners, and spaces that you can’t even imagine can become the advertising space for an app. Since the traffic of each app is different, each app developer will charge different advertising fees.
Thus, displaying ads in VPN apps can bring them considerable revenue.
You are the product
This is the last type of free VPNs that all free users want to use. Can you imagine that you are using a VPN that supposes to protect your security and privacy online at the price of your private data?
This is exactly how some free VPNs make money. They collect user data and record user activity without their permission. Then, they will sell the collected data to third-parties to get revenue.
Some free VPNs are not designed to make profits
1. Seize market share
It is possible that some free apps are just designed to seize market share and attract users. This is a way adopted by the app developer to compete with their counterparts. Some businesses even spend money in the competition to defeat others. However, when the war is over. The winner will start charge users to get the money back.
2. Drive traffic to their services
This is another kind of competition. The free apps are developed to affect their competitors’ main businesses. So, their competitors will be harder to survive because they have to make money from their businesses.
3. Brand promotion
As its name suggests, some free apps are designed to promote a brand for a company. They are also not developed for the purpose of making money from users. As long as more and more people get to know the brand, the app is successful. So, they use “free” to attract more users and make their brands more popular on the market. The reputation and popularity of the brand are much more important to such an app than money. Besides, it is true that this method of brand promotion is much more efficient than many methods.
Now, we are familiar with how free VPNs make money and the purposes of free VPNs that are not designed to make money. Although some free VPNs don’t make money by revealing user privacy, it’s still difficult for users to tell these free VPNs from others that invade users’ privacy.
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