Phase 1 in the iPhone App Store was the initial ramp up and the very first applications – this didn’t take long to work through, only a matter of weeks. Applications were sensibly priced. Serious app? Call it $15 or so, commensurate with the work taken to create it.
Then we had 6 months of utter craziness. With applications appearing in their thousands (literally – though 900 of each thousand was complete rubbish), the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that developers had to price their apps at a dollar or so to stand any chance at all of success – anything more expensive and sales wouldn’t be high enough to make it into the top 25/50 table – which, as we all know, is where the real stars live.
BUT. Sanity does seem to have largely prevailed now that the iPhone App Store has settled down. We still have a thousand new apps each week and 900 of these are still rubbish (if not 990), making it just as hard to find the really good stuff amidst the masses and masses of drivel. Most importantly though, the top applications/games (e.g. Quickoffice, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Real Racing, to name three off the top of my head) are resisting the temptation to sink to the silly dollar price level, maintaining (more or less) their original pricing. And you know what? I think this is a good thing.
At silly one-dollar pricing, you, the consumer, might get a bargain. But the developer doesn’t get adequately rewarded and thus can’t afford to provide support or updates , in some cases even giving up on further applications. At $10 or $20 per application, you have to dip into your pocket rather further – but the rewards for the developer are much higher. After all, if their application or game is good enough then it will still sell well and the profit from each sale is now ten or twenty fold what it was.
Which means they can afford to live. And, importantly, live to code again. Is $20 too much for an office suite that I might use every day for the next couple of years? Of course not. Is $10 too much for a game that I’m going to play for 30 hours a month for the next year? Again, of course not.
Here’s hoping that sanity continues to prevail.