appenomics
economics

Appenomics: Who Decided That Apps, Particularly Third-Party Twitter Apps, Had To Be Cheap?

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Ninety-nine cents here, a buck-ninety-nine there — that’s what were used to spending when Apple introduced the App Store after the iPhone was launched. It was probably one of the most genius software and developer coups in the history of mobile computing. I mean that. By creating the App Store, Apple created thousands, and perhaps millions, of jobs and an all-new form of entertainment and education for consumers.

Instead of using the big, broad Internet, you could do things in a focused environment, natively, on your mobile device. It’s been a thing of beauty and a lot of people have to thank Apple for helping their careers. Having said that, the economics of the App Store haven’t changed much over the years. Many consumers still think that anything over $3.99 is a ridiculous price for an app.

In fact, the only genre of app that is “allowed” to be expensive is games, because consumers are used to dropping $60 for an XBox game. It’s odd, though, that we haven’t seen the needle move on the price of apps, even though developers are working harder creatively and technically than ever.

Some folks have run numbers on what a the third-party Twitter client, Tweetro, would make by charging $10 for its Windows app. Does $10 sound like a lot of money for an app to you? It doesn’t really sound like a lot to me, especially if it’s a killer app that you use everyday and prefer it over Twitter’s own free app.

I currently pay $10 a month for Spotify, because I see the value in using it. If there is a demand for something by consumers, then developers should be comfortable to charge accordingly, based on demand plus the work that went into creating the app. Building apps isn’t easy; it takes money. The reason app companies are raising money is because it takes money to build them.

If It’s Good, It’s Good

For a service like Twitter that a lot of people use incessantly, there really isn’t a “right price” for an application. Instead, certain people are focusing on the fact that Twitter is choking its API, persuading developers to focus on other types of apps. With constraints in place to keep others from flat-out replicating their services, a company like Tweetro decided to simply charge more and accept fewer users, and I give them a ton of credit, because more developers need to think like this.

If you have an eye for design and spend hundreds of hours of blood, sweat and tears building something amazing, you should be rewarded. What if you ask for $40 for your new glossy Twitter app? If it’s not great and nobody likes it, it won’t sell. If it’s awesome, it just might sell. Sure, maybe to fewer people, but to people who really want to use it….and often. That has value.

I don’t see this as a “limitation.” I see it as an opportunity and a challenge.

The genre of “premium apps” on iOS or Android hasn’t fully been realized yet, and I think there’s a huge opportunity to build some. The bottom line is that a lot of folks are building apps, and they’re not very good.

Really crappy apps are crappy, and there’s a lot of them, and they will be reviewed crappily, and won’t sell.

Developers, I challenge you to re-think Appenomics and try things out. You deserve it. Do something different. But first and foremost, build amazing things.

[Photo credit: Flickr]