Friday, October 9, 2015 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Overcast 2

Marco Arment:

And with the new storage manager, you can see how much space your downloads are consuming for each show, and optionally delete the downloads and stream the episodes on demand.

[…]

Overcast 1.0 locked the best features behind an in-app purchase, which about 20% of customers bought.

[…]

With Overcast 2.0, I’ve changed that by unlocking everything, for everyone, for free. I’d rather have you using Overcast for free than not using it at all, and I want everyone to be using the good version of Overcast.

If you can pay, I’m trying to make up the revenue difference by offering a simple $1 monthly patronage. It’s completely optional, it doesn’t get you any additional features, and it doesn’t even auto-renew — it’s just a direct way to support Overcast’s ongoing development and hosting without having to make the app terrible for 80% of its users.

Marco Arment (comments):

I wasn’t very competitive against Pocket with Instapaper, and Pocket “won” (at least in the sense of having far more users, although if I had to choose either company to be running today, I’d definitely pick Instapaper).

I’m trying not to repeat my mistakes, and one of the biggest mistakes I made was putting short-term gain from paid-app sales above long-term growth. I watched my biggest competitor clone all of my features, raise VC money, and hire a staff. I knew he’d go completely free months before he did.

[…]

Podcasts are hot right now. Big Money is coming.

[…]

They’re coming with shitty apps and fantastic business deals to dominate the market, lock down this open medium into proprietary “technology”, and build empires of middlemen to control distribution and take a cut of everyone’s revenue.

Update (2015-10-15): Dave Winer:

Now people seem to think there has to be a linear relationship between code created and money paid. I come from the distant past where this was considered gospel. I made the mistake of charging for Frontier, a powerful system-level scripting environment, in its early days (1992). Ultimately it would have to compete with a product from Apple which of course was free, and even though our product solved many problems Apple left as “third-party opportunities” the users and developers gravitated to Apple. We went out of business quickly.

5 Comments

While I appreciate Marco doing this, it seems to be a bit of a slap in the face of developers of rival podcast apps. Effectively they're having to compete against free. For those of us who prefer different apps due to different design decisions this is worrisome. It's a drive to the bottom in pricing that may make apps I love like Downcast not commercially viable for development. Downcast has a Mac client that syncs to the iOS app which is a must have feature.

Perhaps this is me worrying too much. After all Apple's podcast app is also free. But there's something about this that just seems to fit into the bad economics for small developers in the app store. Marco can do this because he's really not dependent upon the revenue. The other podcast developers may decide to go the way of Instacast. I sure hope not...

@Clark Not a good sign for App Store economics. I might be using Downcast if the Mac syncing worked reliably, but it never did for me.

I find it has problems if you have a device on iCloud that doesn't get updated regularly. (Say an old iPhone 4 or something) It also gets a tad confused if you restore from backup and have it set to sync. The state of the restoration makes it think a bunch of shows need redownloaded. But I do that rarely so sync works great for me.

The first few months of the Mac version though I also found sync was unreliable. But the last year it's been great. (For me - again using iCloud for syncing can be a problem I'm sure)

[…] Bielefeld blames Overcast 2 for accelerating this “race to the bottom.” Overcast may have been the impetus, but I […]

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