I’m sure like most other people, the first thing reading the announcement that struck me like a blow to the head: $20 for an app in the Social Networking category – even on the Mac App Store – is pretty much unheard of.
But my initial shock was only because it was something that was novel; different. I was excited because for something of Tapbots' quality, Tweetbot for Mac is charged at a fair price. In the current App Store market, that takes balls.
‘$20?! It’s only a Twitter client!’
One of the recurring arguments I’ve seen following the launch is along the lines of ‘It’s only a Twitter client, and $20 is way too much’. I think that’s a false claim to make generally, and requires consideration on how much you value a native Twitter experience.
Even with the launch of App.net (of which I’m a user), Twitter is still my main social communication medium1 and I use it most days and make good use of it. As such, on top of the polished product that Tapbots have produced, $20 for an app that I’ll most days or every day is a bargain.
I think this unfortunately exemplifies the throwaway-culture around apps: the 99¢ games which you play for a few days then never launch again and so forth. Apps are by-and-large cheap and plentiful and people see little worth in apps they have, whether or not they’re something they use a couple of times or something they use all the time.
Knowing what you’re getting
Something I’ve noticed when I buy quality software – particularly on the Mac App Store – is that I often feel like I should be giving the developer more money than I am. These are apps such as Reeder or iA Writer which have clearly had lots of effort and thought put into them, and only go for $5 or so. For the quality and level of polish in the end product, a measly $5 feels like an unfair price.
I’ve also come to realise that I like paying for apps, and knowing the relationship with the developer that that entails. I’ve been put off by apps such as Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower (which I really enjoy) because they rely on in-app purchase as a way of generating revenue. I know that the gameplay will often be steered towards buying more in-app purchases, which I know will alter my playing experience. I’d be much happier off paying up-front and having gameplay which was more focused on the game rather than earning revenue.
I’m glad with the decision that Tapbots made in pricing Tweetbot for Mac. I hope this steers other developers who are pushing out quality products to do the same and charge what their apps are worth, and by making a fairer and more sustainable amount of revenue can continue to invest into building great products.