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  • Cheap Apps Stifling Innovation?


    Although Apple has seen 10,000 applications and 300 million downloads in less than four months in its App Store, some are complaining that the lower priced apps are stifling innovation and inhibiting developers.

    Craig Hockenberry, a seasoned developer who created the Frenzic and Twitterrific apps describes this problem well in his open letter to Steve Jobs.

    The main problem is the enormous amount of 99-cent apps or less (see graph), what Hockenberry calls “ringtone apps,” where developers reduce their prices as low as possible so they’ll get favorable placement in iTunes. Hockenberry describes this, “We have a lot of great ideas for iPhone applications. Unfortunately, we’re not working on the cooler (and more complex) ideas. Instead, we’re working on 99¢ titles that have a limited lifespan and broad appeal. Market conditions make ringtone apps most appealing.”

    Hockenberry explains that iPhone users complain about the cost of some apps without understanding what that app is really worth and that they should be willing to pay more for higher quality apps. Furthermore, Hockeberry says that Apple’s policies facilitate this.

    Hockenberry says;

    “Our products are a joy to use: as you well know, customers are willing to pay a premium for a quality products. This quality comes at a cost—which we’re willing to incur. The issue is then getting people to see that our $2.99 product really is worth three times the price of a 99¢ piece of crapware.”

    Hockenberry does not propose a solution to this problem but rather just writes to Jobs, ”You and your team are perfectly capable of dealing with it on your own terms.” However, he further warns that this price point problem could prevent development of an app that could do for the iPhone what the spreadsheet did for the Apple II or similarly what desktop publishing did for the Mac.

    What do you all think? Are you willing to pay more for better apps? Or are the 99-cent apps worth their price?

    Source: Trouble in the (99-cent) App Store - Apple 2.0

    A big thanks to “boe_dye” for letting me know about this story!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Cheap Apps Stifling Innovation? started by AppleChic View original post
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      This guy does make sense however I don't agree with him wholeheartedly... make an app worth buying and people will buy it. If your apps aren't selling for 10, 20 or god knows how many more dollars, they just aren't worth that much to people. Also consider the Hershey economic model. Sell ALOT with a small profit margin and you might end up making more money in the long run.

      Also... did any developed (or Apple) think to allow trials versions of apps? Ay just a buck most people are willing to take a risk. Something that sounds good but costs 50 bucks (and might not end up so good) isn't worth the risk for as many people.
    1. s1ck's Avatar
      s1ck -
      oops... not really first haha

      But there are a lot of faily useful $.99 applications too... and some developers introduce their apps at a low price for a couple days, just to attract attention to the product.
      Besides, if I had to choose between a 2.99 and a .99 flashlight, I would buy the one for a buck, and not the one for 3 bucks.
    1. cricketlang's Avatar
      cricketlang -
      uhhh get over it dude. make a better app. that beejive messenger is 15.99 and i paid for that. it holds one of the top positions in the social networking category because its exactly what people wanted. Make an app that people want and they will buy it. simple as that.
    1. 461am's Avatar
      461am -
      ^but beejive is an established brand. people already knew to expect excellence. Would you be willing to bust out 16 bucks on an untested product?
    1. mixer911's Avatar
      mixer911 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cricketlang View Post
      uhhh get over it dude. make a better app. that beejive messenger is 15.99 and i paid for that. it holds one of the top positions in the social networking category because its exactly what people wanted. Make an app that people want and they will buy it. simple as that.
      i agree... remember when crash kart was 15 bucks too? it was the number 1 game (or app i believe) in the app store for a while. there are many apps that are more than 99 cents and people still buy them because they're worth it.
    1. cricketlang's Avatar
      cricketlang -
      it doesnt matter to me. they are an established brand because they put out good products. if someone puts out a good product i buy it. period. even if its made privately i buy it. 10 bucks is not alot to ask for a well developed product, no matter who makes it. thats my personal opinion. make a good product and people will buy it. simple as that. give them a reason to buy your product and not another.

      Trism is a great example of a paid app that sold like crazy and made tons of money. it was made privately and off a totally new idea. that app did and is doing just fine still. make a good product and people will buy it. period
    1. wannagotopopeyes's Avatar
      wannagotopopeyes -
      Quote Originally Posted by sziklassy View Post
      This guy does make sense however I don't agree with him wholeheartedly... make an app worth buying and people will buy it. If your apps aren't selling for 10, 20 or god knows how many more dollars, they just aren't worth that much to people. Also consider the Hershey economic model. Sell ALOT with a small profit margin and you might end up making more money in the long run.

      Also... did any developed (or Apple) think to allow trials versions of apps? Ay just a buck most people are willing to take a risk. Something that sounds good but costs 50 bucks (and might not end up so good) isn't worth the risk for as many people.
      I agree with this guy, but you're right, a trial version is a simple idea. I'm not sure how it would work from the software point of view, or if it would be a bad idea because the "trial" locking could possibly get hacked somehow, but if there were a safe, efficient way of making trial versions of apps, so you could test it before dropping 10 dollars on a waste of time game or even more for something that sounds cool but ends up being poorly made.

      Sure, I think the 99 cent apps are hindering big development somewhat, but I think trial apps are a perfect solution.
    1. cricketlang's Avatar
      cricketlang -
      i will support the trial feature though. that would help alot of people see what they are buying before they actually pay the full price. as far as cracking a trial app....pirates crack ANY app. period. that shouldnt even be a factor at all
    1. Eurisko's Avatar
      Eurisko -
      Capitalism at its best. The guy is whining that consumers would rather pay less for Apps than his more expensive ones? And this is stifling him? What world does this guy live in? Get a clue.
    1. soulthoughts's Avatar
      soulthoughts -
      I'm all for trial apps. I think it would go a long way in helping people decide if they want to pay for a full version. I think it would also help get someone's brand out too. If someone gives an app a trial run and decides it's not the right app for them, they may decide that the app is well written and there's a chance they would look at other apps from the same developer.

      Cracking apps is always going to be around, trial or not. I think the cracking community is relatively small compared to the average end user community so it's a known evil.
    1. blazingangel1986's Avatar
      blazingangel1986 -
      Quote Originally Posted by sziklassy View Post
      This guy does make sense however I don't agree with him wholeheartedly... make an app worth buying and people will buy it. If your apps aren't selling for 10, 20 or god knows how many more dollars, they just aren't worth that much to people. Also consider the Hershey economic model. Sell ALOT with a small profit margin and you might end up making more money in the long run.

      Also... did any developed (or Apple) think to allow trials versions of apps? Ay just a buck most people are willing to take a risk. Something that sounds good but costs 50 bucks (and might not end up so good) isn't worth the risk for as many people.


      I agree , There being simple minded about something that's pretty strait forward if they would just make trials then maybe people would be really open minded to buy there apps if they think its worth the price but seriously have any of you guys seen an app you think that's worth 20 dollars or more ?
    1. djanark2000's Avatar
      djanark2000 -
      In a sense I agree but in the other hand you dont alwasy pay for what you get or get wat you pay for. Things arent always priced at what their worth and the market controls this. Are the Mercedes manufacturers complaining that Honda makes a cheap car that millions of people buy. No they keep their integrity and they do what they do best. Eventually the market catches on and they will realize a quality car/app from a lower quality one. Cheers
    1. slimmons1998's Avatar
      slimmons1998 -
      anyone remember the $5000 app that only showed you a picture of a jewel? Does it matter if it was $5000 or $.99, how would you feel if you paid for an app that only turned out to be worthless? And then there is no refund? No one would spend their money buying an app that they have never seen or used. I personally do not rely on others comments on an app because for every one that is positive, there are the same amount that are negative. If apple offered a "trial" version of the app and let you try before you buy, I think the higher priced apps would sell. I will not spend $9.99 on something that someone else has said was worth it. I want to see for myself. Would you by a car without a test drive?
    1. cricketlang's Avatar
      cricketlang -
      20 bucks or more...not me. the highest one i have is 15.99 and thats beejive messenger...well worth the 15.99 and i keep in constant touch with the developers about bugs and added features. very worth the 15.99 i cant think of anything better than that or an app even worth that. i personally find the best quality apps to be those developed by gameloft idp and EA. and those apps are never more than 10 bucks. personal opinion
    1. tonycortes's Avatar
      tonycortes -
      [irrelevant]
    1. blazingangel1986's Avatar
      blazingangel1986 -
      i rest my case, its all about seeing for yourself if the app is worth it that 5,000 app that apple let into the app store is a prime example of the non sense they want push
    1. salayyad's Avatar
      salayyad -
      i paid 32.99 for an and 15.99 and thats because they had a free demo available that i enjoyed of each...if ur gonna make a quality that u wanna charge 5 or 10 bucks for, put out a demo version so people know what they are getting.. im toying with orb demo now and should be making a purchase soon.
    1. bruinsrme's Avatar
      bruinsrme -
      I scan App Shopper: iPhone Apps, Deals and Discovery every day.
      There just isn't that much out there that I would be willing to pay more than a buck for.
      Some of the best apps I have were free. Then again if they were $5 i wouldn't have them.
      maybe this developer needs to focus a $30 tip calculator.
      I am willing to risk a $1.04 to test out an app. I am not willing to spend more than $2 on something I am not sure I am going to like or really need.
      There seems to be a pretty good market for apps on the jailbreak side. maybe this developer needs to look to the darkside to the jailbroken community. I have purchased several programs that require the jailbreak
    1. domenicp's Avatar
      domenicp -
      There are many quality apps out there for $10 or more, and people do buy them because they are good... If its quality, people will buy it. Put out a demo version of your app to give people a taste. If its worth it, we will buy it. If your app is no better than a 99 cent version, then we'll buy the 99 cent version.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by 461am View Post
      ^but beejive is an established brand. people already knew to expect excellence. Would you be willing to bust out 16 bucks on an untested product?
      I am betting many people never heard of beejive before it came to the appstore, I know I didn't. Even so, do what they did. They got "established" somehow