Friday, June 4, 2021

Halide Mark II Launch Postmortem

Ben Sandofsky (tweet):

There’s powerful App Store features only supported though subscriptions: a paid app has one price, that is more or less the same around the world. With subscriptions, you can set per-country pricing.


Half the challenge of a big upgrade is supporting the old version of your app. In small updates, you would build your new features into the old app hidden behind flags, and un-hide them when they’re ready to release. We couldn’t do that in our case, because too much of Mark II would change. When we say it was like a whole new app, we really mean it.


There was one post-launch surprise that was out of our control: the only way for us to offer the choice between Pay-Once and subscriptions is to make the app free to download, and throwing up a “paywall” at launch. The App Store doesn’t surface this clearly: it just lists it on the “Free” charts. Many folks downloaded Halide expecting it to be free, and get upset that we ask for payment.


We dug deeper and found it to be a bug when iOS needs to free up memory. Sometimes iOS terminates the program that manages your photo library assetsd. There’s nothing we can do short of telling users to restart their phone.


While subscribers outnumber Pay-Once buyers by almost five to one, Pay-Once revenue makes up 39% of total revenue. We really think that it’s important to cater to a segment of your users that would not even consider a subscription at any cost out of principle.


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