new recycle

Mobile App recycling

The idea of recycling someone else’s abandoned project is something I’ve started putting more resources into. I don’t think it’s a new thing, but not too many people are talking about it because they probably busy doing one of the below things:

  • Making their first few apps they thought the market should want
  • Reskinning like crazy
  • Working on a new app project that will be natively programmed from scratch
  • Taking a break from mobile development

If that is you, there is no problem with that, but I’m sure you won’t object to hearing about another option. All you have to do is keep reading

So…you may be asking, “App Recycling…ok..recycling it into what?”

Short Answer:

Taking an app that failed (financially) for a variety of reasons and using it as the foundation for a successful app.

Long Answer:

Recycling a mobile app may not have any benefits to the environment, but it could save you a ton of cash and time.

You might also call it app flipping. Similar to all those house flipping shows on HGTV. You buy a house that is outdated in a decent area or an up and coming area, fix it up and sell for a profit. The process is exactly the same except the end. With App recycling, I am not selling the app. I am more turning it into a rental property or asset that produces steady income. However, if you want to take a failing app, fix it up, get it so there is steady revenue for 3-6 months, there is no doubt you would be able to sell it.

So back to the term app recycling…I look at it more like recycling, because I am taking something that most would throw away, but instead, putting it into my “process”, tearing it all apart, reworking it and ending up with an income producing asset that is marketable.

Have you ever bought a USED car / boat / motorcycle…let’s say anything you bought used over $1000? If so, you may understand the benefits of buying used (if it was a good deal in the first place because you did your home work). The original owner paid full price and decided they either didn’t use it enough or wanted something newer. A lot of times it can be almost new, but the price drops considerably. You swoop in and get a deal.

Vector business concept illustration. Two businessman discuss good deal

Assuming the seller has described the item honestly and you don’t mind always needing to have brand new items, you can save a lot of money over the course of a few years.

So you get the point. I seek out an app that fits the criteria I want to create, but has been abandoned. Honestly, I start searching for app templates / source codes first. Then if I can’t find something close enough to what I want, I approach the owner / developer and try to negotiate a deal.

Just like a lot of other things, it’s a numbers game. The more developers you contact, the better chance you can make something happen. A few months ago I must of emailed 25 different people that had a similar app that I was trying to create. If purchased for a fair price, these apps would have given me a head start and saved me a lot of time and money.

Out of the 25 people I contacted….I got:

  • 2 Responses,
  • 5 returned emails because they were not valid emails anymore
  • The rest did not respond

When I do connect with someone and reach an agreement, we don’t waist time getting to work on the updates we outlined before even contacting the the owner. I am not trying to put the cart before the horse, but I have an idea what I want and what it will take to get the app I am injuring about to where it needs to be.

If I didn’t, it would be irresponsible and a waist of time. I don’t just blindly contact people thinking it could work. I do some work of front knowing if they are ready to make a deal, we can do it.


These updates can range from basic fixes to bring it up to current iOS standards to advanced features.

You have to look at your targets very closely so you don’t buy something you’ll regret.

This is a quick look at some of the things I consider:

  • How much can pay for this app?
  • How much will it cost to update it to my liking?
  • How long will it take?

If the answers to these questions are congruent with my vision, I move forward.

Some tips to test an app you are targeting before you even contact the owner. Let’s break it down to 3 categories:

App Updates:

  • Look at the last update date. [If it’s been over a year that is usually a good sign for you]
  • Try and visit the developers website. Is it still live? [If not, that may be a good sign it’s abandoned]
  • Click on contact developer and sew where it takes you? Valid contact form or blank page? [Again, if it’s touch to reach the developer, this may be a good sign]


App Performance

  • Download the app and see if it crashes? [This is a tough one to gauge. Honestly more of a guess becase it could be something simple from an ios update or it could be deeply rooted. You aren’t looking for “once a crappy app, always a crappy app”. You are looking for a good to great app that the developer just didn’t market or position correctly]
  • Does it work on your newer devices or does it need optimized? [If it doesn’t look good on an iPhone 6 or iPad retina, then you may have a good candidate]


App Reviews

  • When was the last review? [Over a year ago. Check!]
  • What did the reviews say? [If there are negative reviews, are these things you are capable of fixing?]


So let’s assume you tried to find an app template / source code for this new project, but didn’t have any luck.

Now you need to dig into all the apps sitting in the store.

Start to search for apps that flopped. You are not looking for the apps the come up ranking #1 for your targeted keywords.

You are probably looking for the apps down at the bottom. The kind of apps that have a solid platform that yields smooth game play without crashes. Ideally for the best price, an app that already is or can be turned into the app you want to create.

Ways to determine an apps ranking history?


So this perfect app you are looking for would have average or below average graphics with horrible keywords and ASO overall.

It also may have been great at all the previous things, but served too many ads, got bad reviews and never recovered. So going back to the house flipping example, you want a house with “good bones” or something that has “potential”.

So if this app you are looking for was a house for sale, maybe it’s not getting much interest because it needs a new kitchen and new bathrooms. You have a connection to a contractor that can update all of this for areasoalble price and then the house will be worth X more.
Same with this hypothetical app. You are looking for that app (house) that needs a new kitchen and bathrooms. You then update the app and add some new features (remodel), position it correctly to showcase it’s potential (stage the house), and get an expert that knows how to promote apps, get them featured and sell (top rated real estate agent).

These are the hidden opportunities you want!

You don’t want the nicest app (house) in the store (neighborhood) if you are using this method.

The better the graphics and ASO, the better it ranks. The better it ranks, the more downloads it probably has. The more downloads it has the more revenue it has probably produced. The more revenue it has produced the more the developer should probably want for it.

Your target needs to be original and not a reskin. This would mean the original developer owns full rights to it has not sold / licensed it to anyone else. Make an offer to buy this app. Address some of the issues that may have caused it to flop and bring it up to iOS standards if necessary.

Publish your own version and / or ask a few developer friends if this is something they would like to license. It takes time to spot the best opportunities, but it’s not too late to start. You don’t have to only search app marketplaces, search the app store itself. Find the app you want, get ahold of the developer (some are easier than others) and make an offer. Just because it’s not listed for sale, doesn’t mean it’s not for sale.

If you want to try this in the future or all this seems overwhelming and right now are more focused on getting an app into the store, you should consider using an app template.  We have a few that have been getting pretty rave reviews.  More on this in a future post.


If you want to stay up to date with what app templates we are using and creating.. sign up for our email newsletter > here <

[If you want a preview of the kind of emails we send and the backstory to my experience with using this process click here to read.]

If you are already signed up for our newsletter, then you can still click the link and enter your email.  That will help us know you want to hear more on this.

Just a little heads up…

For those of you interested, we are planning on putting together some awesome bundle deals forget most popular templates that come with extras you don’t get when purchased from a marketplace.  You won’t even get these deals from this website. These deals will only be available to our email subscribers, so be sure to sign up above so you don’t miss out.

When those are ready we will send them your way so please keep an eye out for any emails from us, especially those that have [Launch] in the title.

When we do send you these offers they will probably have a countdown in them for a set amount of time. Probably 48-96 hours. When I purchase app templates or projects from other developers / bloggers it usually helps keep my focused and motivated.

If I don’t have to act before an offer expires I may not purchase it. That’s all well and good for you. I don’t want to push you to purchase anything you don’t want , but if you are planning on purchasing it then…the quicker you start your app and the quicker it’s uploaded to the store. The quicker you get approved and starting getting downloads the more revenue you can generate!

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[If you want a preview of the kind of emails we send and the backstory to my experience with using this process click here to read.]

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