Free vs. Paid in the AppStore

One decision you need to make when you are developing an app is how do you monitize it. I won’t talk about pricing specifically in this post, but on the decision should you charge a user to buy your app. Let’s think thru a couple of options you have:

  • Paid app – if you have an obvious value prop, and there are a lot of other apps in the market which are priced, you may wish to just price the app. This will reduce the initial uptake of your app, but you can get mired direct feedback thru purchases.
  • Free app – this may make sense if you are just getting started, and you just want to get an app in the store. Note, a truly free app won’t make you money, this is a learning opportunity.
  • Free app with ads – it this group I include both directed ads and any app that uses information about the user to drive market insight or non app related revenue. Knowing the real reason for your app and want that data is worth makes this a very attractive option. This includes apps which actually require accounts on other platforms, like the web, where you want to drive more enablement.
  • Freemium app – this is usually used if your app has a simple use, which gains additional value to users thru in app purchases. This can be a very attractive offer, if you can parse the value to you users. However, don’t get into the trap where the base app is not valuable or so valuable that they don’t see the need for the in app purchases.
  • These are you four basic pricing decisions… They are not exhaustive… Are there other models that you favor?

    iCloud update

    After watching a ton of coverage yesterday about apple’s big announcement, one thing fell thru the cracks… The update to iCloud now will allow you to redownload your movies. Of course this is not completely true, since not all of the movie studios are allowing it, but we are one step closer to having total recovery of those of us who have lost their iTunes library due hard drive failure.


    OK, I’ve had time to digest all the coverage from the Apple announcement and here are my reactions, would love to get your reactions to the announcement and how it may impact your development.

    • Retina display – yes, knew this was coming, how could it not.  Time to go in and update my graphics… or is it really just time to add yet another set of graphics to my app.  I currently developed an universal app for iPhone and iPad called Wasted-Time.  It was an exercise to get me up to speed on iOS before I created something more significant.  I used a graphic as a background and had to put two versions in the file for iPhone and iPad.  I never did update it for the Retina display on the phone since the app was already 8mb in size.  And for what it does that is huge.  I had wanted to actually remove that graphic, and if I do, I will end up with only a few icons which need to be doubled in size. Perhaps now is the time.
    • A5x Chip – Now this is more interesting.  They kept the same two cores for the CPU but doubled the number for the GPU.  Evidently apple sees that multi-tasking is not as import as graphics performance.  Given the success of games on the platform, I can understand this.  It also means that we will see more and better graphics.  The various demo apps around iPhoto and Sketchbook show this to be true.  I hope that the CPU processor is actually faster, and since the infinity dungeon demo stuttered a bit, I am guessing that it is not faster.
    • LTE Networking – Faster speeds mean more networking in apps, with bigger data requirements.  Given that most of the carriers in the US no longer provide a meaningful unlimited data plan, I guess we will use more data at the expense of our users.
    • Apple TV 3 – was really hoping for apps here.. but no.

    The biggest surprise was the performance of the graphics.  The Nvidia chip they talked about has 12 graphics cores, and the A5x claims to outpeform it with only 4, guess will have to see one of thes new iPads in action soon.


    p.s. anyone want to buy my iPad 2

    Today’s Big Announcement from Apple

    I am writing this post hours before Apple’s big announcement, and it seems that the rumor mills are finally slowing down.  We can expect a new Apple TV (will it support Apps??), and the iPad HD.  Things will be faster, higher resolution, and more RAM.  From a developer perspective I think the most important aspect is the RAM.   Yes the speed and resolution will also enable us to make more complex apps, but the RAM means we have a bigger playground for our code.  I will post a more detailed reaction to the event later today…

    Security and your Mobile App

    There’s an interesting perspective when it comes to mobile apps, people writing games don’t necessarily think about security. Enterprise app developers must consider security in their apps. And if you are developing social apps, security is even more important, there is no faster way to kill a social platform than to violate your users trust and security (unless your name is Facebook).

    If you are writing a game, do your players care that they can get in and hack your high scores? Probably not if it is a stand alone game, but if it has leader boards and multiplayer, you don’t want to allow this… it will ruin the game play and lose you gamers.

    How do you handle security?

    Windshield Time

    Years ago I worked for an experienced data processing manager. The fact that the job was in data processing should indicate the I am now an experienced IT professional. My manager would come up with these complex development problems and never give me time to actually think about how to come up with solutions. After months of getting more of these problems and not having time to actually come up with creative solutions, I snapped. I approached my manager and said how do you think I can come up with the right solutions if you never give me time to think through the problems.

    This is when he explained to me that I had plenty of time to work on these problems, my one way commute was over 45 minutes on a good day. I should use this “windshield time” to think thru the problems. I realized he was right and suddenly found I had almost 2 hours a day of just think time.

    Now a days many of us work on our apps at home, nights and weekends, when is our windshield time?

    Sustain a bull – Apps?

    Was grabbing my daily coffee at my favorite coffee shop BeanTraders, and saw a pamphlet on the counter for the “Sustain a Bull” program. David and Christy, the owners, have evidently joined this program to help support local businesses. (For more information go check out their website at Sustain a Bull.

    This got me thinking, are app develops a local business? Let me suggest that they are… Here are my thoughts:

    • Most developers are small teams
    • small teams tend to be co-located
    • Revenue from apps comes to the local community

    Yes, these are over generalization, but getting started to develop apps is not hard all you need is a pc or a Mac, and a device to test on. There are many online free and cheap tools to help you get started. And the 70% of the revenue goes directly to the developer, at least on the apple app store.

    I will think this out even more and post more soon.