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A $5 app isn’t expensive: Customers need to help fix the App Store economy

Lex Friedman | April 8, 2013
Given that iPhones are anything but cheap, why are so many of us surprisingly cheap when browsing the virtual shelves of the App Store? Ironically enough, that tendency to be cheap may end up proving costly in the long run.

Until and unless App Store customers show a greater willingness to spend money for great apps, developers will need to pursue in-app micropayments, sleazy as they make everyone involved feel, just to stay afloat.

We're not talking about that much money

A contract-free iPhone 5 from Apple starts at $799 and an iPhone with a two-year contract ends up costing you at least that much. By comparison, even a "high-end" app will run you around one percent of the iPhone's price. It's worth it.

You don't buy a Kindle just to enjoy the dictionary and manual that come pre-installed on the device. You shouldn't buy an iPhone to enjoy only free apps, either. You're cheating yourself, all because we've become conditioned to feeling that $5 is a lot to spend on an app. It's okay to pay for good products.

I'm not a fan of the "cup of coffee" comparison so often bandied about in conversations about spending money on apps - both because I dislike the comparison and coffee itself. I'll use my own Diet Soft Drink Analogy instead: I often skip the diet soft drink at a restaurant, because water's fine and I'm happy to save a couple bucks on chemical-laden beverages, regardless of how delicious they may be.

But where the $2.50 soft drink might have brought me mere minutes of enjoyment, a $5 game could bring me hours of fun and a $10 app could boost my productivity in all sorts of ways. I'll also spend $9 per month on Netflix for the promise of a few hours of entertainment each month and many will spend $60 to $80 for a console video game. It's worth spending money on things that can improve your life - even if they don't come shipped to your home in a cardboard box.

Maybe your premium cup of name-brand coffee is worth it to you because of the flavour, the aroma and the caffeine. I don't begrudge you your hot beverage. But I'm here to tell you that you will find a comparably-priced app offers at least as much enjoyment as that drink.

Spending money on great apps means not only do you get great apps now, but you're also essentially investing in great apps later. Let's fix the App Store economy and let's start by paying for apps without shuddering at $4 price tags.


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