Just launched a new game on the iPhone?

Prepare to join more than 200,000 applications battling it out to land on top download lists. If you're not listed, it's likely consumers won't even be aware of your existence.

One new solution? Tell consumers that for every app of yours they download, they'll receive 25 cents in their PayPal account.

Sartell, Minn.-based software distributor W3i says it's a good way for new apps to attract attention. On Monday, W3i will launch an online service featuring dozens of iPhone applications, offering consumers real cash for every download while letting developers pay to gain the traffic they need.

"There is no easy way to discover apps that one might be interested in," said Andy Johnson, CEO of W3i. "To get there you have to break through the clutter. This is what we do."

W3i is launching its service, called Apperang, at a time when the number of mobile applications and the demand for them continue to grow. More than 4 billion iPhone applications have been downloaded since the app store launched in 2008, according to financial services firm Morgan Stanley.

But getting a share of those downloads can be difficult, developers said.

James DonFrancesco hopes that by using Apperang, his company's 99-cent app that measures elevation will move up from its No. 30 ranking on the app store's top navigations downloads list and generate more sales.

DonFrancesco, vice president and director of business for Eden Prairie-based Precognitive Research, said his company is paying W3i $500 for Apperang and estimates it will bring about 400 downloads.

Meanwhile, consumers will log onto www.apperang.com, plug their iPhone into their computers and download the app for free.

"It's going to help us boost our ranking in the app store, and that's the key," DonFrancesco said. "When you get listed higher in the app store, consumers will see your application listed and more people will see it and more will buy it."

Executives at W3i hope Apperang will provide an additional revenue stream for their company. It also makes software that helps Web developers attract more users for things like wallpaper and toolbars by giving people additional recommendations when they download something online.

The company said it has been profitable for 33 consecutive quarters and has 67 employees. In 2006, it said it had $26.8 million in revenue, but has not disclosed sales since then for competitive reasons.

W3i came up with the idea for Apperang in the first quarter of this year. As more people were buying smart phones and using the mobile Web to download applications, W3i wanted to get into that market, executives said.

"There is a bigger opportunity with this than our core business," Johnson said.

Still, some industry analysts are skeptical whether there is enough incentive for consumers to go through Apperang to download an app.

"I'm not sure if I'm highly motivated by a quarter," said Mark Beccue, a senior analyst at ABI Research. "It doesn't buy me much these days."

Nashville developer Jackson Miller, who helped launch the popular iPhone game gpsAssassin, said he's not sure if he would use Apperang to advertise his apps because there's no metric to track whether the consumer uses the app once it's installed.

Giving away cash is easy

"Paying 25 cents to install it and delete it would do me no good," said Miller, who plans to relaunch the game this year. "It's really easy to give away cash. I don't know if the people that you are going to get from giving away cash are going to then turn [that] into revenue dollars for me."

iPhone applications can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 to develop, according to Forrester Research. Some developers choose to charge money for their apps, while others offer them for free.

Free apps generally make money through virtual products bought inside a game, mobile advertisements or by encouraging customers to purchase other products. Apple retains 30 percent of app sales.

W3i will be selective as to which apps it features on Apperang, said Ryan Weber, vice president of corporate strategy and co-founder.

Weber said the company has had success in attracting customers to other recommended software and will select applications that are high quality. The company plans to promote Apperang through blogs, cross-promotions within its business and Apperang's referral service.

"The cash incentive alone is not going to be significant enough," Weber said.

Wendy Lee • 612-673-1712