I use a lot of various apps on both my iPhone and iPad. I paid for most of them, while some were free. Years ago! Yet I use them each and every day. David Smith’s Pedometer++ app [App Store] is but one example. Tweetbot [iPhone, iPad, Mac] is another—for iPhone, iPad and OS X. I don’t even recall when I bought the last two, but it was obviously some time ago (updates are in the works!). What alerted me recently was Panic’s 2014 report on the state of their apps.
This is the biggest problem we’ve been grappling with all year: we simply don’t make enough money from our iOS apps. We’re building apps that are, if I may say so, world-class and desktop-quality. They are packed with features, they look stunning, we offer excellent support for them, and development is constant. I’m deeply proud of our iOS apps. But… they’re hard to justify working on.
Q Branch recently also mentioned a few issues with App Store pricing.
Now that Vesper supports all iOS device layouts, we’re raising the regular price for the app to $9.99. With fast, reliable, unlimited sync, we think that’s a great value. But for a limited time, we’re making this version available for just $7.99. And it’s a free update for everyone who’s already purchased any previous version of Vesper, all the way back to 1.0.
John Gruber followed up with a call for developers to follow in their footsteps.
Put another way, we’re going to charge something sane or die trying. We tried following the iOS App Store trend by pricing Vesper at just $2.99 for months. It didn’t work. Prices like that are not sane, and not sustainable, at least for well-crafted productivity apps. So Q Branch is drawing a line in the sand, and we hope other iOS developers will follow.
As a user, I wholeheartedly agree. But will that be enough?
David Smith’s Pedometer++ app is the only one that I have installed (and I have close to or slightly more than 100 apps on my iPhone and a few less on my iPad) which features a “tip jar” as he calls it. Its function is simple—tip the author one, two or five euros via in-app purchase. The difference between it and a typical IAP is twofold—a tip is not mandatory and the app still retains 100% of its functions without it (although it does additionally remove ads) and a user can choose how much he values the app. Being able to tip David at any time also allows for users to rethink their first choice—I know I have.
I tip David from time to time for one reason and one reason only—I hope he keeps on expanding its functionality, perhaps adding more stat summaries. As you can see from the above screenshot, I have being using the app for a while now. I can’t help but wonder how many people would tip developers of their favourite apps if they had the ability to do so? I know I would.
All of the above musings weren’t actually brought on by Pedometer++. It was Marco’s Overcast that did it—I was completing my Star Wars playlist (and not exactly excelling at the task) for better times and playing around with the new options in the latest release. I had paid the €4.99 to unlock its full functionality on the day of Overcast’s debut and quite frankly I just wanted to give Marco more of my money for his outstanding work during the past year or so.
And I can’t stop wondering if a tip jar in Tweetbot would have changed the app’s fate, allowing for Paul, Mark and Todd to spend more time on it.
Developers—if you want more of my money, enable your apps. Add a tip jar. If I use your app, I’ll be more than happy to help you out so that you can continue to make excellent software. On top of the app being priced accordingly to your needs and beliefs of course.