What is a developer's motivation?

Discussion in 'iOS 7' started by Traverse, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    There is something I have often wondered about the iOS app system…

    A developer releases an app for say $2.99 in 2013 and are then expected to maintain indefinite support and upgrades for each new iOS version for free. I have never been charged for an upgrade, but then I wonder how do these app developers support themselves? Sure they can make a quality app and drive sales, but eventually that pool will dry up and downloads will become stagnant, forcing them to release new apps.

    I realize that most developers don’t base their living on iOS, but what is the incentive to continue quality support once sales plateau. Part of me feels that major upgrades should come at a small price.

    What do you think?

    I’m sure that is why more and more developers are using IAPs, but then that gets out of hand ($99.99 for 1000 coins….)
  2. djtech42 macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2012
    West Chester, OH
    A couple of apps I have purchased in the past have had second versions released as paid upgrades. I guess it depends on the type of app. These were more complex and probably more expensive to maintain.
  3. hansonjohn590, Dec 21, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013

    hansonjohn590 macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2013

    If you start charging for updates, you risk alienating your userbase who may not buy other applications that are made from you.

    At this point you start to have fragmentation. You have to maintain and continue both versions, ultimately deciding to stop supporting the old one entirely at some point. When this happens, you are gonna piss off even more people when they upgrade their iOS version and find the app no longer works. At the rate people change phones and with a new iOS coming every year, the pace is difficult to keep up with.

    If you spent a significant amount of time and resourcing rewriting an app or adding major functionality, by all means charge for it. But this isn't done very frequently (at least not on the iOS ecosystem).

    This is all from a developers point of view. As a customer, I myself have stopped paying for MyWi (jailbroken app) because it became a subscription app essentially, every new iteration required more money without adding any new features.
  4. Sirious macrumors 65816


    Jan 2, 2013
    United Kingdom
    Cut the Rope 2 and Temple Run 2 are examples of 'paid updates'.
  5. kas23 macrumors 603


    Oct 28, 2007
    I think due to the shear numbers of people having iOS devices makes up for the inability to charge for upgrades. If an app is wildly popular, 1-2 million downloads, and they only charge $1-2, that developer is golden. Many developers have struck it rich with their apps. Plus, there's always in-app purchases too.


    Not only that, there are apps like Plant vs Zombies 2. This game was downloaded 25 million times in its first 10 days! It was a "free" app, but I swear I must've spent over $10 in in-app purchases on that blasted game. Not only that, there is an Android version too.
  6. SomeGuyDude macrumors 6502a


    Mar 19, 2011
    Two things:

    1) A lot of them are hobbyists, using this as a little fun on the side.

    2) New customers. More people buy iPhones all the time, so what's really important is that initial sale. Don't worry about trying to charge for new ones all the time because it's a lot easier to get 10 people to pay $2 once than to get one person to pay $2 ten times.
  7. Traverse thread starter macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    I guess as long as Apple does their job to keep driving iPhone sales, then they'll keep attracting more developers. It's a risky, but potentially very successful, cycle. If the iPhone's popularity ever began to waiver, they would lose developers fast.


    Yeah, I normally won't pay for those, but cut the rope sucked me in. I'll probably buy that one. Stupid Om Nom....:)
  8. eas macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2005
    I think we are already in the phase where developers can see that the ongoing growth of the iOS (and general smartphone ecosystem) isn't going to be enough to sustain not charging for new versions and upgrades. They already have some options, like in-app purchases, or in app advertising, to monetize ongoing development, and, for some titles, particularly games, releasing an entirely new app is practical.

    In the future I think we'll see more of this practice, but I also think that Apple will also, eventually, offer paid upgrade functionality.
  9. nw9 macrumors regular

    May 1, 2012
    I'm hoping that Apple will create an easy paid upgrade feature to the App Store. The whole pay once for life is not a sustainable system since the smartphone market is starting to become saturated. The pay once system relies on new users.

    I'm not a developer, but the reason I care is that I'm tired of some of my apps no longer providing updates because they can no longer make a profit. These apps are not popular so they don't get the benefit of enough new users. I would pay for an update, but the developer seems to think they would lose users if they charge for an update. The developer ends up abandoning their app and I end up losing a useful app.

    I dislike in app purchases because some developers abuse the system by charging for every little feature they can think of. I also dislike ads so paid upgrades is what I'm hoping for.

    I also notice that when we the customers pay developers directly, they seem to care about what we want more than when they get their income from ads.

    Facebook is a good example of this. They don't care about their users as much as they care about making their advertisers happy. Imagine if Facebook's only income came from paying users. They would stop making all the changes that irritate their users because they would actually listen to user's complaints. Businesses want to make money, so whoever is paying them is who they care about.
  10. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    If you're smart, you can live off a million bucks for 10+ years. That's why a lot of developers don't do upgrade paths, because they're perfectly happy with their profits and are grateful for it.

    It's when you bring a few more people into the picture that it's a problem, because you have to divide it between everyone, you have to borrow from investors, etc, etc.

    That's my educated guess anyway.
  11. nw9 macrumors regular

    May 1, 2012
    That's only if their apps are the popular ones. The unpopular apps don't make much money. That's the problem with the pay once system. The app has to be popular in order to make enough money to not care about sustainable income. With a paid upgrade system more apps can be sustainable with less users if most of them upgrade.
  12. tymaster50 macrumors 68030


    Oct 3, 2012
    New Jersey
    I paid for Intelliscreen on Ios 5... $20 down the drain or however much it costed cause a week later Intelliborn was like "lol, i want another $20 for iOS 6 sorry".

    Dropped the guy an email telling him i will no longer pay for or recommend his product.
  13. JoeyCloverfield macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2012
    Except, apps have to be really, REALLY, popular to make any significant amount of money, let alone a million dollars. I'm talking about viral-game territory (Candy Crush). David Barnard, from contrast.co, created Launch Center Pro, Perfect Weather, Mileage Log +, and Timer. These are apps that have been featured by Apple multiple times and have even been in the top 10. He's been creating apps since 2008 (I think?) but still hasn't made a million dollars.

    It's especially harder making the one-time-fee method work when that one time fee is a mere dollar. It annoys me that consumers think developers are being greedy when they charge for updates even though, in five years, they might have spent less than $10 on paid updates.

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