As any developer knows, software doesn’t magically grow on trees. Significant reworks of existing apps can represent hundreds of hours of development time and depending on the complexity of the apps in question, require much more than simply updating graphics. Taking full advantage of new APIs, designing new interactions and more can represent a healthy investment, time is money after all. At what point in the update process does a developer decide she needs to charge for it? How many users will be alienated by charging again? Will these users be offset by the huge influx of new people Apple brings to the table with the launch of the new OS?
Updating an app or starting over from scratch for iOS 7 is going to require a ton of work. Don’t be surprised to see a bunch of apps go the route Agenda 4 did today by re-launching as a new, separate app, or adding some other kind of revenue generation.
All this work gets done by real human beings. Thank them for their work by buying it, and they’ll continue to make even more great stuff for you. It’s a pretty wonderful system, when you think about it.
You wish, Richard.
Developers: if you’re wondering where the line is between “genuinely participating in the community” and “turning into an obnoxious pitch-o-matic,” this is on the wrong side of it.
Ellis Hamburger interviewed a wide variety of app developers, including myself for AgileBits, about the challenges and pitfalls of the free app ecosystem. It’s a great read.
Right now developers selling through the Mac App Store face a lose/lose choice: either provide all major upgrades to existing customers for free (thus losing a quarter of our revenue), or create a “new” product for each major version (creating customer confusion) and charge existing customers full price again (creating customer anger).
The Mac App Store is awesome. As a user, it’s my preferred place to buy new apps because it’s so convenient. But in my time speaking to developers as a writer and working for AgileBits, the upgrade issue is a significant problem for developers and sustainability. Maybe it’s something Apple has been working on, since the store is just over one year old, but time is getting short.
The Mac App Store can’t exist without developers stocking its shelves. But developers can’t continue to stock those shelves if they can’t find a way to justify doing so in the long term.
Wil Shipley explains in thorough but digestible detail the problem developers face with no upgrade pricing in the Mac App Store. I would argue this same problem exists for the App Store as well.