Consequences of removing a feature from an app that is 4-years old.

Discussion in 'App Store Business, Legal and Marketing' started by Soulstorm, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Soulstorm, Jul 14, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013

    Soulstorm macrumors 68000


    Feb 1, 2005

    I recently came across a problem that I would like to share and obtain some opinions from others, both from a developer and a user perspective.

    4 years ago, I developed an application for iOS, and I began selling it for 2 euros. There are no advertisements or any source of income from the application apart from the amount paid to buy the app. The application is not universal (there are separate paid apps for the iPad and the iPhone released with one year time difference, with separate UI layouts, but same features), and it uses internet sources for its content. The application back then was a huge success. Nowadays, it has approximately a few thousand active users (less than 5000) and the monthly income from the application is extremely low, which I find normal for an application that is 4 years old (10-20 new users per month, approximately, and dropping).

    With the coming of iOS 7, I will need to make an overhaul of my application, to comply with the new UI. Regardless of the effort involved and the non-existent economic gain, I want to do it, for educational and promotional purposes (I want to have something to show off :) ). However, I will also have to remove a really basic feature from my application. How important this is? Well, let's just say that it weighs as 30% of the features of the whole application. I am forced to do that due to licensing issues, which I cannot overcome. The good thing about this situation is that time is not pressing, and that if I don't release a new version, I can keep the 'feature' turned on. Also note that the 'core' feature of the application will not change, the feature I am about to remove is a 'cool extra'.

    On the other side, with the update I intend to make the application universal (so that users don't have to pay both for the iPad and the iPhone), iOS 7 only, drop the price in half from now on, and implement a completely new feature, in the place of the old one. The new feature will be useful, but I don't think that it can ever replace the original.

    My actual question:

    I am in an ethical dilemma, I believe. On one hand, I am supporting an application that is 4 years old, which does not provide a significant income. On the other hand, if I continue to do so, I will be forced to remove a feature that accompanied the application since its 4th month after the initial release.

    Has anyone encountered a similar situation? What would be your thoughts both as a developer and as a user regarding this issue? I think it would be good to hear some thoughts from people that me be more experienced than me.
  2. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2011
    United States
    From a users' perspective, and I sure you will have many of the 5k of users notice this and that "Update All" in the App Store and it will catch them by surprise. You will probably be flooded with some negative reviews which will nail a coffin in the app would be my guess.
  3. Soulstorm thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 1, 2005
    So what would you do? You would take down the application completely? Because you would have to either do that, or make something new, since you would not be able to keep the old interface with the new iOS, it will be completely broken.
  4. dantastic macrumors 6502a


    Jan 21, 2011
    If I was you I would create a new iOS7 version and leave the old version there with a note saying it is no longer being maintained. Add a link to the new version.

    Like already mentioned there will be people annoyed that features have been removed.

    If you create a brand new version you have old users that may be annoyed they have to pay again, the ones who contact you just give them a free promocode and apologize for the inconvenience.

    By the sounds of things you have a very genuine case for a brand new version 2.
  5. xArtx macrumors 6502a

    Mar 30, 2012
    As a user I would not be happy that functionality was lost through an update.

    Do you remember the reel to reel tape recorder graphics that went missing
    from Apple's standard Podcast App? I was pissed.

    I didn't think an iOS update would break an app...
    Wouldn't a lot of unmaintained apps also break then?
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    DO whatever you think will make the app better, remove the fetue, add new stuff, whatever but call t a NEW app. Use a different name.

    Then, do NOT update the old app. Say "it works on IOS 6 but not 7" Tell your users the new app is for IOS 7.

    This way no one ever sees a missing feature and you get to support IOS7 the way you want.
  7. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    I would also agree that not touching the old apps and provide a new universal might be the better way. Removing features is mostly not welcomed.

    And to reduce the "pain" for existing users you could have a introduction period (for example: one week) when you offer for 50%. Of course new customer would have the same benefit.

    Adding iCloud support, notification center etc might create some value-add.
  8. mgipe macrumors demi-god


    Oct 6, 2009
    Keep the old one and create a completely new app with your new function set.

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