Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac reports that Instacast has been discontinued due to the simple fact that its parent company Vemedio ran out of money. Since the specifics are unknown at this time, I can only assume the main problem was lack of profitability. I could probably write many words on the subject of business models and so forth, but that horse has been beaten to death in various places on the internet many times in these past few years. What I would prefer to focus on are two subjects that I have already mentioned here.
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.
This reminds me … I haven’t tipped him in June yet.
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.
Marek Moi, the man behind PointOut [App Store], followed David’s lead after my article but expanded on the idea:
PointOut is free to use with one layout and all the tools. Three more layouts can be unlocked by buying Marek an espresso. He really liked David Smith’s idea of a tip jar which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Marek chose a slightly different route however, since he really likes his coffee—the user can buy him an espresso for €0.99, a doppio for €2.99 or a trippio for €4.99 as an in-app purchase. Whichever one you get him it will automatically unlock all the features, as well as all future functions which Marek is already working on for a 1.1 update. If you really like his app you can get him an espresso more than once of course—I really like this way of allowing users to support their favourite devs.
I also tip Marek from time to time, hoping this will help to motivate him to keep PointOut updated in the future. Perhaps he would also be willing to port it to OS X? We’ll see. Regarding the matter at hand however …
Instacast was my first podcast player on iOS. It was probably one of the best out there, if not the single best app in the App Store. This changed a while back. Development seemed to have slowed and its UI became a bit too complex. I slowly stopped understanding exactly what I was doing in it and my playlists weren’t organised exactly how I wanted them to be. I believe I payed €4.99 for it, happy to support a great developer. Obviously the sales weren’t enough to make it sustainable. I wonder if a tip jar would have helped?
This was shortly before Marco Arment debuted Overcast [App Store] – his “simple” podcast player. The app itself was free, but it included an in-app purchase which Marco valued at €4.99. It unlocked two fantastic features—Smart Speed and Voice Boost. I paid for those immediately and without hesitation—they make listening to podcasts so much better that I couldn’t believe I lived without them all these years. The way he sorted out playlists was great too—a truly welcome experience after the complicated Instacast. Tomorrow will be Overcast’s first anniversary and while I’ve been using Marco’s app at least a few times per week, I only paid that initial €4.99. I know his business model is currently sustainable after listening to him talk about it on the Accidental Tech Podcast, but for how long?
I know I’d tip him or buy him a coffee if I had the chance to do so.