Friday, September 27, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Subscribers Are Your True Fans

David Barnard (tweet):

Paying once for an app really only makes sense if the app provides minimal functionality of limited value and won’t benefit from continued improvement.

[…]

With paid apps, people often end up buying several apps just to figure out which one best fits their needs. Let’s say they spent $3 each on 4 apps, that’s $12 they were willing to pay for a great app, but that great app they settled on only gets $3. Since most subscription apps have free trials, and many even have ad supported free tiers, people can try multiple apps and then only pay for the one they actually use.

[…]

Sure, some potential customers (or existing customers if you transition from another business model to subscriptions) are going to complain about the subscription model. It’s hard to hear someone tell you that they don’t value what you’ve built, but the smart thing to do is focus on the people who are subscribing, your true fans. Figure out who they are and look for ways to reach more people like them instead of focusing on the vocal minority that complain.

Julian Schiavo:

My apps been rejected with a short message basically saying ‘your app can’t use auto renewing subscriptions’, any tips/experience on this? All the other apps of this type use auto renewing subscriptions 🤷‍♂️

Reginald Braithwaite:

The simple model I keep in my head, is that your revenue model should parallel your expense model.

If they don’t, you’re both running a business AND engaging in arbitrage. That’s two things you have to get right, instead of one.

David Barnard:

This tweet reminds me of a chart by @macguru17. When you’re building an app, even one that doesn’t have ongoing costs like weather data or servers, the cost of continued development keeps putting you underwater before each update.

I don’t think most people realize how much most indie developers sacrifice to keep the lights on. In 11 years, I’ve probably only been cash flow positive 48 months. With paid apps, I’d build up a war chest with a big launch/update/sale, then spend it down working on the next.

I’ve even gone into debt to squeak by until the next big update. People seem to think all developers are rich & greedy. But it’s like any other small business. Most struggle, some do well, a few really well. But businesses don’t drop prices because they are doing well. 🙃

Previously:

5 Comments

*Since most subscription apps have free trials, and many even have ad supported free tiers, people can try multiple apps and then only pay for the one they actually use.*

I am not sure if this is a fair argument, since paid apps used to have trials as well. Apps with trials used to work the same way. You'd evaluate several apps for a week or two and then give your money to a single developer. To this specific point, the problems does not seem to be pay-once apps, but that the App store has made trials for paid applications much more difficult.

*I don’t think most people realize how much most indie developers sacrifice to keep the lights on. In 11 years, I’ve probably only been cash flow positive 48 months. With paid apps, I’d build up a war chest with a big launch/update/sale, then spend it down working on the next.*

Paid purchases were favorable to users, subscriptions are favorable to developers. I think many users will only put up with so many subscriptions. Developers who were early might benefit from them, but with each apps costing a couple of bucks per month, I think a lot of folks will stop adding new apps once they have $20-30 monthly subscriptions or so (after 5 apps or so). So, I think the value of subscriptions to developers will be diminishing as the market gets saturated in this manner.

Subscriptions are a tough call. I tried a decibel-level app that wanted $4/month to access some features and remove ads. That struck me as completely disconnected from reality. That’s more than half as much as Disney’s new streaming service. On the other hand, I gladly subscribe to apps I use a lot that have a server component, Overcast, NewsBlur, and AnyList. To me, there’s a clear line here between providing functionality and continued development and just trying to extract as much money as possible. But a lot of people see all subscriptions as the latter. I hope there are enough people like me to keep indie developers going and provide them with a more stable income.

@Daniël
Is this not the point? Apple makes changes to cripple how apps can be bought, upgraded, and installed, developers feel the crunch, they push back with extortionate (not always, but I am salty today) subscription rates, and now customers are feuding with developers. Noticed who escapes blame more often than not? Apple, i.e. the creators of the problem who just happen to benefit from extortionate subscription rates as it brings in steady, monthly income.

I am salty. Subs are fine, they have their place, but not every app needs to be a sub. Walled garden strikes again. Boo.

P.s. @David Barnard is an advocate for this process because the company he works for sells a product that reports itself as:

We handle the pain points of in-app purchases, so you can get back to building your app.

He's hardly an unbiased participate here.

[…] a more recent post, Tsai quotes a piece and some tweets by David Barnard. Barnard’s original piece is titled […]

Alfonso Betancort Aguado

Wide subscription based consumer software was started by adobe, then every other developer was critic with adobe move. Now they pretend to shove it thru all their customers throats. Hum!

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment