Buy More Apps

(And encourage others that quality software is worth paying for).

App pricing is a subject that gets a lot of discussion amongst developers; my developer friends and I are no exception. Concepts like Race to the Bottom and Freemium are well known – I don’t need to discuss them in detail here.

What I want to discuss are two points made by Joe Cieplinski in his recent article You’re Not Loren Brichter.

The whole article is worth reading, but I’m focussing on two of the suggestions to ‘keep in mind if you’re getting into the App Store software business’. These points stood out as they reinforce a view of the app market that I hold. A view that I hope is accurate as it describes an environment in which it’s possible for small, indie developers to succeed.

Here’s the first point from Joe Cieplinski’s Blog:

The vast majority of iPhone and iPad owners only buy games. Actually, to be more accurate, most of them don’t buy games; they download free games. And then a very small percentage of those folks actually pay the $1 or whatever for the “advanced” features. Those hundreds of millions of devices that Apple talks about at every keynote? Most of them are never going to run your app at any price. Not because these users are cheap. They paid for an iPhone or iPad. They have a few bucks to spare. Not because they hate you. They don’t know you. It’s just that paying for apps is not on the radar. They just like playing casual games once in a while, and that’s all they need from their phone. So forget them. They’re not your customers. There are hundreds of thousands of other iOS users who are interested in your product and do pay for software regularly. Don’t confuse those users with everyone else. They are two very different groups of people. You don’t need to get them all.

Nearly all of my friends and family, including developers and people close to software in some way, simply don’t pay for apps or software – Xbox and PC games excluded. This can seem strange to developers writing the software. So we consider, we discuss. Comparing the purchase of an app to that of buying a cup of coffee, or a pint of beer, have become popular. I’ve tossed these into conversations with friends myself, always to little or no effect.

As Joe writes above, it’s simply not on their radar. Sure, it’s interesting for us to talk about. But for now, let’s forget why they don’t buy apps and just accept it. It may be a smaller group of people but we’re better off concentrating on the users who do pay for software.

Here’s the second suggestion:

Buy apps. And start encouraging everyone you know to pay for quality. If you balk at paying $1.99 for any app that genuinely interests you, get out of the business immediately. You’re part of the problem.

Going back to beer – I like it. I like to try new tastes and see what small, local breweries have to offer. Some people like organic foods and fair trade goods, or high end hi-fi, custom built sports cars, companies that are environmentally responsible… There are many examples where people are happy to pay more than ‘the norm’ because of an interest, value or ideal that they hold.

As an example, let’s say that you think that global warming is a problem we all need to be concerned with, a problem we should be taking action to solve. In this case, all those people who don’t care about global warming are, part of that problem.

And this is what I take from Joe’s second point above. Now consider the ‘app’ software business that we’re interested in. The fact the majority of people want software to be free, maybe they even expect software to be free, it presents a problem for us. It’s fighting against that positive environment above, the one that includes users who will pay for software.

The suggestion? Don’t be part of that problem yourself. Don’t aim to succeed in a market place where you’re unwilling to support the values you’re hoping others will have. The values needed to to make the whole thing work.

Buy apps that you’re interested in. If you’re putting effort into making quality products – acknowledge it when you see other developers produce quality work.

And just like the friend who explains how good, proper coffee tastes, and that it’s worth the effort… From time to time tell your friends and family that developers put a lot of effort into building well designed apps – and that quality is worth paying for.