How Much is Your App, Skill and Time Worth?

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The $0.99 App Devaluation You Should Reconsider

What is a good price for an app? $0.99 or maybe $0.00? These are very common app store prices excluding the freemium model. This is something that I think needs to stop. Developers are worth more than that.

Developers take time to develop even the simplest of applications. It takes skill, time and tools. These should be rewarded! The app stores have generated the impression that these are the prices you should be charging arguing more downloads and exposure for the price. This is ultimately an unsustainable pricing structure over time for most people wanting to make apps and will eventually lead to more substandard applications or a smaller developer pool per platform. I believe it will also increase the in app advertising that is already seeing an increase in angry customers.

Consider this, you train to be a doctor or teacher. It takes years of time and money to become good at what you do. Do you then start charging customers $1 per visit or lesson? I did not think so, so why is it acceptable to charge that for your application? I have heard the argument that maybe you will sell enough copies to make it all worth while, but once you lose those first two days where you might get featured or appear on the new app page you are now just one of millions of apps hoping to appear in a search.

To play Devil’s advocate I will offer the counter argument.

‘But at $0.99 I am seeing a ton of downloads and I can put a big number up on my app web page’. OK that is fair, but wait until you try and charge for the next version or try to raise the price, your customers are going to give you a bad review and those are hard to come back from.

What happens when a new version of iOS is released and breaks your application? Now you will get bad reviews until you take time to fix it or be accused of abandoning it. Maybe you thought you would release the app, take the money and run. OK you could do that, but don’t expect to be forgiven when you release another app!

There are companies out there that are charging what I think are reasonable prices for their apps. I have personally paid prices across the board up to $60 because it was worth it to me and because it tells me that the authors care enough to value their work and time. A couple of examples are Fantastical 2 and OmniFocus. They clearly believe in what they are producing and plan to be around long enough to keep embracing this industry as it matures along with their customer base.

You the developers are in a position to do something about this and force a change before it is too late. Stand up and set a price that says ‘Our work and our skills are worth more than $1’. So this is my call to action before it is too late and customers expect $1 for everything.

Think of it this way, at $1 for your application you are saying your work is only worthy of the $1 bin just inside the entrances of most stores rather than being on the shelves with premium products.

Think about that for a minute, what if one day $1 is considered too much, where do you go from there?

As with all industries your skills and time have a value, do not let it be $1.