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Paid Apps vs. Free

If you buy a .99 drink everyday, why not pay for a .99 app once, that you will use everyday?

Tough question: How to make money as an app developer, when the majority of users will only download free stuff (and then often complain about the ads)? If you try to sell an app, what price do you set? If it's anything $1.99 or over, you may as well price it at a million dollars, because for many mobile users, that's the perception.

Even .99 for an app that someone will use on a regular basis is a tough sell. I have an app in the Android Market that has a free version, and then a paid .99 version. The paid version has way more features, looks better, works more intuitively and yet the free version will crushes it in download totals. Almost 100:1. 

I was reading this article from Lifehacker, and it brought up some good points that even I hadn't thought of, and yet been guilty so often in the past. I think I can share the blame as much as anyone else.

The PC market place is full of "Free" software that comes bundled with crapware that is very hard to spot during the download process, and sometimes very hard to clean. But, that's not really something that can be totally blamed on the developer. We demand our software be free, which means we are really demanding the developers work for free. And not many are going to do that.

So, we are going to keep getting crap with our free downloads, and soon mobile apps that are only chalk full of ads right now will start to find ways to be as disruptive as the "free" PC software.

I download free apps and programs all the time. But, as soon as I know I'm going to use it regularly, I buy the paid version. Not just because I want the premium features, or to get rid of the ads (although that is a perk). But, I know just how many hours, weeks, and even months it can take to create and maintain that one single app.

I don't know how many people walk into their fast-food chains, or local coffee and demand they get a free .99 drink every time, but when we demand all of our apps and software be free, that is essentially what we are doing.

I think a few bucks here and there is well worth it. Especially when I use it on that small screen I’m staring at most of my day.


If you are just a user, what would it take to get you to pay for apps of software? Or, is the Ad Version or Crapware version fine for you?

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