Friday, August 14, 2015

The Mac App Store, Paid Upgrades, and Trials

Dan Counsell (tweet, comments):

Software is the outlier. As I write this, I can’t think of any other business where the customer pays just once and receives free updates and improvements for life. But yet this is how the App Store has been setup for software developers. It’s simply not sustainable.


If the App Store never offers developers the options for paid upgrades, it will continue to encourage a culture of disposable one time apps. This is not good news for developers, Apple or our mutual customers.

Curtis Herbert:

A sales model based on upgrade pricing relies on convincing your users that the new version of your app is worth more of their money. As a developer you now have to hold features back. You need to create a big enough splash with each major update to convince existing users to hand over more money, and hope the temporarily increased press coverage will attract new users to look at your product.

Over time this is going to become more difficult as your existing versions are going to be become "good enough" for most of your customers. There is a limited quantity of awesome new features that everyone cares enough about to pay for.


Services and premium features, now those are things users understand.


Basing your revenue on a service instead of app sales has another benefit specific to the App Store. While the App Store Review Guidelines prohibit timed trials and demos for the app itself, they don’t prohibit timed trials on features that are normally part of and in-app purchase or subscription.

Wil Shipley:

I’ve already bought one Taylor Swift album I don’t understand why I should have to pay her more for her work since then.


The MAS actually penalizes you if you update an app which has a bunch of good reviews. Because after you publish a new update the average rating that is shown next to your app in the search results/category lists disappears until you get at least 5 new reviews for the current version.


My proposal is simple. When a developer creates “My great product 2.0” they do so as a new SKU, but can associate it as an upgrade of “My great product 1.0” in iTunes connect. When “My Great Product 2.0” is released, existing users will get notified of the availability of an upgrade. How? In the App Store app, the user will get a badge under updates. The updates section will include a row at the top labeled “Upgrades” below the "Purchased" item.

Milen Dzhumerov:

Unfortunately, I don’t think paid upgrades will ever happen - IMO, trials are even more important (not happening, either).

Sandro Pennisi:

Trials would solve so much and would make the AppStore more interesting for “pro” software.

Milen Dzhumerov:

Yup but won’t ever happen as total App Store revenue would decline massively - people won’t pay for crappy apps.

Sandro Pennisi:

True. But it would be a healthier App Store. Trials means you can charge more. I know it won’t happen. Sadly.

Milen Dzhumerov:

Agreed. But no exec can pitch declining rev given how much they boast about it each year at WWDC.

Sandro Pennisi:

Honestly, if you think about it it’s a joke to expect people to pay for software without being able to try first.

Milen Dzhumerov:

Yup, it’s an utter joke - like the stone ages. It’s unbelievable… but it’s not a technical problem, it’s policy.

See also: Feeder 3.0, The Lagging Mac App Store, and Accidental Tech Podcast #128.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

You are completely right! They have to change that.

[…] this is. Sandboxing certainly has a lot to answer for, but it's not the only reason. There's also paid upgrades, sustainability, quality of life, and the Mac App Store just generally being […]

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