The trade-offs of changing people’s lives

I’m going to say it: I want to have influence. I want to change people’s lives. I want to help people learn and work more efficiently than they ever have before. I want to leave my mark on the world.

We’ve had over 2 million downloads of our powerOne products on iOS and Android now over almost 8 years. Believe it or not this is far behind the pace we set for ourselves in the earlier part of the decade on Palm OS and Windows Mobile, where we had close to 15 million downloads over 5 years. 2 million, 15 million, though, is only a (good) start. There are over 1 billion people carrying around an iOS or Android smartphone, which means only 0.2%, roughly, even know about us.

The hardest part about building a business is getting people to know about the product. It is clear that charging for apps keeps people from using your products. But if we don’t charge for our software — that’s charge real, sustainable subscriptions, not these ridiculous $1 or $5 one-time price points — means we can’t afford to be in business.

Without funding it feels like we only get to pick one: 1) scale and have influence, paying for our families to live through some other means, or  2) charge a subscription, limit our influence ambitions but have the potential to make sustainable revenues near-term. I don’t want to pick but I can’t find a middle ground. I want my cake (influence) and eat it too (revenues).

4 thoughts on “The trade-offs of changing people’s lives

  1. I have read your entry with great interest. When I was in private practice and raising a family I often looked at the economic realities and wondered if I could sustain my self. Then one day I realized that I didn’t need to make a million dollars all at once. I just needed an amount I could live comfortably on. Doing the math, I focused on getting the number of customers I needed in a year to match my “amount needed”. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an possible number. By reducing my expectation to my needed amount I sharpened my advertising to my nitch market. And I reduced my stress level.

  2. Like most independent app developers, I share your pain, and I have given a lot of thought to this issue. I have come to believe that there are 2 really important components to a successful ‘freemium’ revenue model. These are that it is important to monetize your free users that never purchase a subscription, and there needs to be limits (not just extra features) that force your power users to subscribe while in the middle of an important task. You can see these concepts pretty clearly in Evernote’s marketplace tab and upload limits. If you can figure out out to work those concepts into your product, then you can have your cake and eat it to.

Comments are closed.