When I was a kid, I remember my neighbor setting up a lemonade stand. It was the peak of the summer season and I thought he was a fool for doing that instead of spending his days playing ball like I did. After a few hours of playing in 90 degree weather, I stopped by his stand and asked him for a drink of his lemonade. He smiled, and pointed to the sign that read, “Cup of lemonade: $ 0.50”. I looked at him and said, “are you crazy?”, he smiled and again pointed to the sign. I walked away thirsty and went home to drink water.
Today, there’s an awful expectations that applications should be free of charge. Like my experience, we spend all day toting our $600 iPhones and iPads and show the world how powerful they are, but we hesitate to make an app purchase once we see a dollar sign associated with it. If we have any desire to see great apps being developed, we have to be willing to pay for them!
I was a Palm Treo user when it was first launched. I remember being excited at the possibilities of having Word, Excel and PPT in my pocket. When I went to their online store to purchase documents to go, it had a $30 price tag. At first, I was like wow, that’s a lot of money. But having paid $200.00 for the desktop version, I thought I was getting a decent deal. So, without thinking twice, I purchased it and was creating, editing and sending office files via my smartphone device. It really was a digital revolution, and I was willing to contribute to it.
When Apple launched the App store, there were a few apps that launched for free. The thinking behind this strategy was to give people a taste of what quality of apps can be created. We downloaded a ton of apps and loved our third party offerings. After a few months, I began to look at the difference in quality in apps. I noticed that paid apps were more mature, and developers paid closer attention to details. But more than anything, I began to see how paying for apps provided a revenue stream for developers.
Developers spend lots of time and resources creating apps. Like my friend with the lemonade stand, he spent all that time in the sun, making and selling lemonade. I on the other hand, spent time playing around in the heat. Why should he not get compensated for his hard work? Why do I feel that a fee for his hard work is not appreciated?
If you work to provide a product or service, you should be paid! Work = money. The moment we begin to see free as acceptable compensation, we should rethink the way we see the world. Because I bet, that you will not work for free where you are employed today.
As for those apps that are free and provide no ads. Then you should begin thinking how they make money. Because chances are, your data, your information is what’s being sold for revenue. You are not the customer, you are the product!
Oh, and if you think ads are an acceptable revenue stream, then the one who suffers from the experience is both, you and the developer. Ads interrupt the user experience! Just remember that each time you want to play the next level in one game only to get a banner that wants to remind you that Preparation H is on sale with your app’s coupon code!