Experiments with the App Store

A nice experiment was had over at appcubby. This has been one of the main guys complaining about the way Apple’s App Store operates. Reading his little experiment, you get the impression that he has created quite a few awesome applications for the iPhone platform. He continues to explain that he decided to lower the price point of his applications from around $5 to the standard 99-cent, while offering a way for folks who really appreciated his software to give a donation. That’s when he learned just how appreciative people really are: not. We live in a world where most people are accustomed to gaining their software for free via piracy. I personally know very few people who buy their own software. I can count them on one hand. These are the same folks who don’t buy their own music either.

Without providing any real numbers, he said that he only received $75 in donations. He does provide a simple graph showing a spike in sales for the week in question, but doesn’t offer what those sales numbers were. Jumping from 2 to 5 sales would show the same spike. Your guess is as good as mine. I would hazard a guess that somewhere around 7-15 people contributed to his donation scheme. I base that off my own experience in donating for software. When I get ahold of a decent app that I feel is really worth more than the standard 99 cents, I generally donate $5-10 to the author/creator via paypal. $10 per person and a $5 would put the amount at the $75 that the author claims he received.

He then goes on to explain that because of the structure of the App Store, he has decided to start selling his apps for around $10 a pop. The structure of the App Store seems to be productive for those who sell over 100,000 copies of an application. That’s pretty expensive for an App Store app, so this is where I decided to see exactly what this author was selling that he thinks is worth so much money.

Here they are: Trip Cubby, Gas Cubby, and Health Cubby. Really, guy? These are what you refer to as such great software? Software you expect to make a living off of? I’m sure they’re good and all, but come on. Aside from the obvious cutsy names to match the “cubby” theme, the Trip and Gas Cubbies are pretty much what the first few applications available from the App Store were (what, no Tip Cubby?), and available from a plethora of authors, some of which were free. I tried 2 or 3 of them out myself. Where are they now? I keep Car Care on my iPhone (which ended up getting 4.5 out of 5 stars from Macworld) but I haven’t used it for about half year now. I’m not saying that Car Care is better or worse, just that there are many good utilities out there that offer varying levels of features that Trip/Gas Cubbies do for varying-to-non-existent prices. Don’t plan on getting rich off them.

I know a few developers who are in reality a one-person operation, but whenever that person refers to his/her company, that company suddenly becomes a second or third person plural. We have created. Our company. The payroll of our employees. Because I know people like this, I cannot help but ask myself, is this really a group of people working in collaboration, or is this simply the product of one person’s spare time and motivation who is a bit disappointed in the amount of money coming in?

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