A case for the Subscription App Price Model

App development, like art, is an expense of creative energy and effort. Once published, maintenance and upkeep takes a considerable amount of time and skill. Keeping up with changes in technology that Apple and Android add complicate a developers life. Imagine having to update a painting or redo a sculpture in a new medium because the galleries change how your work is to be consumed.

In 2014, the kids decided to drive app prices down to the free model to generate downloads – commoditizing the app business and frankly taking the fun out of this creative outlet.

As a result, People just won’t pay what an app is truly worth. They expect apps to be free. Adding ads to apps is a futile effort as it requires tens of thousands of downloads and repeated use to make even a meager income. Pizza money is what most developers get.

Lately, developers and publishers have landed on the subscription model. If you’re app is compelling enough you can derive a better sustainable, recurring income over time. However, It takes a long time to reach an equilibrium.

You also have to factor in the market you are creating an app for. If the market is small, Eg. the Go life or death scenario app, then you need to charge more per month. The app you mentioned wants $13 per month and that may in fact be steep. How many people do you suppose would even download that app in the first place (Boomer)?

Photoshop on iPad can be had for around $20 per month minimum. Adobe is making a killing on their subscriptions. It used to cost $1,500 to upgrade annually. Subscription for the full adobe packed is around $49 – $50 per month – comes out to the same over a couple of years. Adobe also has a lot of mouths to feed. It’s a necessary evil and you’re hooked in. Imagine if your oil paints, canvases and brushes locked at the end of the month if you stopped paying?

Even successful app developers have gone out of business with the subscription model. It’s not a simple hobby and the work: code and design has value.

Bottom line: if you like an app and want to to be improved and maintained then pay your developers. Like any creative pursuit, funds are needed for the long haul.

Maybe $13/mo is too much. The developer may lower the price when no one subscribes. If they’re a smart marketer, they will try other ways to make an income. He’s bringing an incredible domain knowledge to the world of wannabe Go players.

Subscriptions are the model for the foreseeable future. Don’t be to hasty to deny the dev a living.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Pay your developers.

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