Sean Carpenter

App Store Pricing and Entitlement

Lex Friedman recently wrote an article at MacWorld titled “A $5 app isn’t expensive: Customers need to help fix the App Store economy” discussing pricing and the race to the bottom on the App Store. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

I wholeheartedly agree with the points Lex makes in his article. The pressure to price an app cheaply is real. This is detrimental to the health of the App Store since the lower prices make it more and more difficult for professional developers to make a living selling apps.

The other thing I’ve noticed is a sense of entitlement on the part of app buyers even when they’ve purchased an inexpensive app. I have no problem with and will gladly support an app that I’ve written; the part that bothers me is the expectation on the part of the user of instant, in-depth support on something they’ve paid a dollar for. It’s unfortunate but true that the $0.70 I receive from each purchase does not account for very much support time (even using the low rate of $50/hr as an example, $0.70 only buys 50 seconds of support).

Here’s a real world example: My Romote app currently sells for $0.99. It needs to communicate with your Roku device via your home network. It attemps to auto-detect any Rokus you have, but this is a hit-or-miss proposition since many times the Roku devices will not respond to detection requests. You can input the IP address of your Roku manually, but of course that means you need to find out what it is. In addition, the variety of setups involved in users’ home networks complicates matters.

Taking all of this together, it’s not surprising that I receive regular requests for help with Romote. I’m happy to provide whatever help I can, which usually involves offering some suggestions around auto-detection and determining a Roku’s IP address. But some people aren’t interested in even giving me a chance:

Please respond I spent $ and would like results

A Romote User 3/26/13 8:08 PM

don’t charge my account for that$$$ this app stinks as far as working on my roku. Your services did not work for me so I will not pay.

The Same User 3/26/13 8:16 PM

So since I didn’t respond within 8 minutes, I have no chance to respond at all. I understand that it’s frustrating when an app doesn’t work immediately, but I do take pride in my work and use the app regularly myself so I know that it does work.

Occasionally I wonder if raising the price of the app would cut down on these types of angry requests. Having fewer customers would also allow me to spend more time helping those that need it. Of course, it may also reduce my sales to nothing since there are free competitors in the App Store.