Monday, February 21, 2011

Money For Nothin’ and Your Apps For Free…

I was talking to a friend of mine about a reasonable price to sell my app for.  I was doing it strategically, basing our price on what the market would bare.  What do our competitors’ apps price for, and what exactly do we at Brain Freeze offer?  We’ve finally honed our research down to a price that seems right. So, after having done all the typical calculations that any businessman would do ~ figuring out my break-even point & hoping for a profit ~  my friend asks me, "Why should I buy your app when I can get all the apps for free on the Droid?”  OK ~ major road block…

First of all: NOT all apps are free on any mobile device.  If they are free at the start, the creators are going to find a way to create a revenue stream, either through in-app ads or in-app purchases.  Some of the really high selling apps (mostly games) will start out free, but eventually they will want to upsell you into a paid version.  This may work for the gaming apps, but when it comes to books, the model just doesn't hold up.  I invest thousands of dollars and countless hours of my time and effort to make my customers a high quality app for their children. So, I really don’t think is too much to ask to put a price tag on it.

That being said, there are people out there who price their apps far too high for the content given.  For instance, a lot of history apps price-out high at the start, based on the expectation that teachers will "pay through the nose" to educate their students in a new and engaging way.  I know that because I’ve bought a few of those and I know others (teachers) who have, too.  However, it turned out that the educational content we paid $9.99 for, was, in the end, equivalent to about one chapter of a book. Sadly, this is other end of the spectrum, where some apps are overpriced, and you have no way of knowing that until you've made the purchase.

Next, my friend poses this question, “Shouldn’t all apps just be free?” Well, in a perfect world, I would gladly give all my stuff away for free.  In that world, I could go to a store and buy groceries paying only with a smile.  My daughter could afford college simply on a hope, and I could pay my mortgage by wishing on a star.  I do wish we lived in that world, but this is capitalism.  Just look at the price of gasoline, or the money we’ll pay to see one film in a theater on date night.  I know the value of a buck.  People ought to get their money’s worth at all times, but why do so many people still think things should just be free?  If you want quality entertainment, you’re going to have to pay for it.

As a remedy, I think that our ‘Lite’ version of the app is a very good option. It’s the perfect way to try before you buy. And in the app world, I think a lot of folks agree that you ought to be able to taste the food before you know if you want it.  Many a time, I wish I had the opportunity to do that before I carved into a $25.00 steak.

The mentality that I am trying to emphasize is this: if a parent will hand-over $16.99 for a hardcover version of a Dr. Seuss book, then what’s the issue with paying $4.99 for a fully interactive children’s book? A book that teaches your child reading while you are in the other room cooking dinner for them, doing the laundry, or checking your email. To me, at this price the app is a steal.  For a few bucks, you’re getting A LOT of content in return.  I have to say that the only thing missing is the new book smell.  I’d put a money value on that; how does 10-12 dollars less sound?

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