The Mobile App Price of Free Is The Future

Free and Low-Cost Apps

Writes David Barnard of App Cubby:

The pool of time users spend on smartphones is staggering and growing rapidly, but it is not infinite. The more time people spend with useful/entertaining free apps, the less need they have to actually pay for apps. That doesn’t mean people will never pay for apps — the market for paid apps has continued to grow alongside free and freemium apps — but users have been conditioned to expect more and more for less and less.

The entire article is very well done and aligns very closely with my own observations. The App Store environment is very hard on non-game apps, and even the gaming market is hard given how hit-driven it is.

Here is what we have done with powerOne, a top 10 iPad finance app and top 30 iPhone finance app, an app that has been featured by Apple on numerous occasions and participated in the iPad launch, and still doesn’t generate enough income to pay for two developers full-time at market wages:

  • Single product with compelling value proposition (100s of calculations for $4.99)
  • Free Lite version that is a top 100 iPad/iPhone utility app with promotion to paid version
  • Multiple versions designed for specific markets: mortgage, construction, medical, etc. ($.99-$4.99)

We are also in the process of developing a product with a partner and are exploring ways to make a little money off the Lite versions. I’m not interested in advertising so we have ruled that out.

But the fundamental conclusion I’ve come to is that developing *just* a mobile version is not good enough. People are using apps to connect to the larger world, to get something done while on the road. The question I have been exploring for the past year is how does our core capabilities help our customers do that? What do we do when they get back to the house or the office? And what can we build to help them?

In the end, getting off the device may be the only way to build sustainable revenues for productivity-style apps.

2 thoughts on “The Mobile App Price of Free Is The Future

  1. Instead of chatting so much, you should concentrate your efforts in making Powerone for the iPhone as capable as it was for Palm (with graphics and calculus and matrix algebra): I thought it was too difficult, then found that Mathstudio had accomplished something similar; so I got it-willing to pay the price. And I’m no more following you (altrough in the past I made schools buy hundrede of your sodtware). You should focus on your real strenghts, leaving hot air aside.

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