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Free Apps
Martin Sitter on Mon, March 29th 5 comments
Free Apps? At What Price? Last time I checked there was 140,000 Apps in the iTunes App Store ... but that was a few weeks ago so there's probably about 150,000 now. Literally thousands of new Apps ar

Free Apps? At What Price?

Last time I checked there was 140,000 Apps in the iTunes App Store ... but that was a few weeks ago so there's probably about 150,000 now. Literally thousands of new Apps are being Approved weekly. The tide of new iApps is unstoppable, and grows by the day.

A large majority of those Apps are free Apps. And of those most are what I call "Junk Apps" made by someone with too much time on their hands ... Apps that will never be developed further because the coder has lost interest. For the most part these Apps just clutter up the App Store.

If there's 500 Apps in the App Store that are truly useful, I'd be surprised. That leaves 149,500 Apps that are junk Apps. So what should Apple do about it?
In my opinion, the first thing Apple should do is get rid of free Apps. Free Apps serve no purpose.

They are either created from ego by somebody that just wants to do it, or they are marketing and promotional pieces that derive economic gain for the maker by either directing people to a paid product or by serving some form of advertising. In either case, the maker is unlikely to spend much time or resources making the free App better, or innovating in their space to create an App of quality that people will want to use over and over again.

The biggest problem I see with free Apps is they ruin the market for actual App developers by pushing down the price that can be charged for Apps of quality. If people must choose between 2 similar Apps, they'll typicaly choose the cheaper one even if it's inferior. And if the cheaper App is free, all the better.

Free Apps stifle innovation. It's all a mater of economics. Because of free Apps, $5 has become the maximum you can charge for an iPhone App and still have people consider buying it. If they can find a similar App for $3, they'll buy that one instead, 99 percent of the time.

But as an App developer putting time and resources into creating useful and innovative software, you have to do some number crunching. If you sell your App for $5, you need to sell 10,000 copies to make $50,000. That's a heck of a lot of $5 Apps! If you could charge $50 for the same App, you need only to sell 1,000 units to make the same amount of money.

And there goes the market for new and innovative App development. Because of the price of free, we've come to see even $5 as too much to spend for a new iPhone App. Even if the App looks great and works well, we'll choose an App of inferior quality because it's $3 cheaper ... or best of all, Free. Who want's to spend that $5 anyway.

It's $5.
$5, people.
But even $5 can't compete with free ...
Martin Sitter

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Comments (5)

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  • Skye
    The thing with the app store is that the low cost is offset by shear volume. With ~85 million iPhones and iPod Touches, you don't need much of a market share to make a decent profit. With apps in the $0.99-$4.99 range, I think a lot of people don't think twice about buying an app. It's a pure impulse buy. But I do think customers expect a lot more for the price now. If you look at the top revenue generators quite a few are in the $10-$100 range. So if you make a quality product and can have the person justify the cost behind, it will sell. I find the biggest problem is just getting seen because, as you mentioned, almost all apps are crap.
    • 11 years ago
    • By: Skye
  • Rounik Admin
    Ha! But I like this free app: itms:// and this one:
    • 11 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
  • Martin
    Ooo busted ... but if we HAD to charge $0.99 I wouldn't complain ... we've had almost 1,000 of those Free Logic Pro Primer Apps downloaded in the last 3 weeks ... blows my mind really.
    • 11 years ago
    • By: Martin
  • Rounik Admin
    What gets me when looking at the app store are the number of negative reviews for very useful apps where people complained because it cost £1.19 (less than the price of a return bus fare here) or £1.79 (can you buy one beer for this anymore?)... you get my point. But, I think iPad App prices will be marginally higher.
    • 11 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
  • Martin
    Yeah totally ... "This $0.99 app is too expensive" ... what?!? If you saw $0.99 sitting in the gutter you'd probably leave it for the next homeless person that passed by ...
    • 11 years ago
    • By: Martin
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