The 99 Cent App Is Dead

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By @razorianfly

The App Store is a big place, sure … but maybe it’s getting just a little too big. Maybe developers are losing sight of making sure they charge what their work is actually worth, rather than basing the factor of price solely on “I wonder how quickly we can get into the iTunes Top 10?”.

UK/Swedish based iPhone development studio ustwo™, who are also the developers of MouthOff™ and the first people to debut the unique 48hr app series, have announced that they’re done with making 59p applications. In what might seem like a bit of a protest action to those who are unaware of the underlying reasons, the studio has stated it will no longer be using the $0.99 minimum pricing model to sell any of its apps on the App Store. Instead, effectively immediately, the studio has upped the prices of all its current “full” App Store titles to $1.99/£1.19.

When asked why this was the case, creative director Mills responded:

“We value the work we do, and 59p is as good as saying its free. It’s a price that is impossible to cover costs.”

The dispute comes down to the App Store itself and its mechanics we’ve become accustomed to. Ustwo™ believe the App Store is slowly but surely becoming in their words: “a pit of mediocracy simply because of price point”. Basically, they don’t want to play the game of pricing their apps at 59p just so they are guaranteed to sell. They value their work, as Mills explains below:

“The main problem quality developers are facing is that the App Store is fast becoming a pit of mediocracy simply because of price point. Consumers quite frankly have been spoilt and are becoming accustomed to lower prices and this is forcing developers to react accordingly. As far as we’re concerned 59p is as good as free, and that price suggests to me (the developer) that I don’t value what I’ve created. Something that’s taken months of effort to create, ongoing work to promote and taking into account Apple’s cut, all I’m left with after a sale is a lowly 49p – the price of a Mars bar. And what does the user get for that? A highly polished slice of entertainment.

“At that price things just don’t add up. We are proud of what we have achieved and created; and we will no longer be forced to compete on price point alone. As of this day forward, we have raised the price of our first four paid apps from 59p to the new minimum standard £1.19 price point. This is our Braveheart moment. If people are not willing to pay at least £1.19, then why are we in this game?”

I can sort of see where they’re coming from. You have to admit, even 3D intensive console-type games for these devices are extremely cheap compared to their higher console counterparts. We know why the $0.99 price point exists, and why Apple chose it, but is it now being overused? Ustwo™ for one, seem to think so. Are we being spoiled? Is it time developers sat up and valued their work more?

It’s an interesting debate I’m sure you’ll agree. I for one agree with them, I hate to see people throwing their work away for a pittance, and maybe it’ll take someone like ustwo™ and their braveheart moment to change this worsening situation.

Someone has got to try …

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10 Discussions on
“The 99 Cent App Is Dead”
  • I dont get it, they are talking about the months of work you have to put in and app and then they price the 48 hours apps at $1.99 and give their position app which seems like something that took time to develop for free?

  • I agree with a lot of this… However, I’ve always understood that the cheap price is a result of higher sales. It’s an economy of scale.

    I have two apps currently selling for $0.99 .My hopes are to amortize costs over a year. I guess I’ll find out if ustwo is right or not then.

  • I would agree. The amount of asian boobs/fart/sex quiz apps priced at 59p has cheapened that price point immensley. Yet I’ve bought several apps in the last few days in the £1.19 – £1.79 price point, that stand out of just oozing class and polish, well deserving of that price point. And I sincerely hope that the higher price point doesn’t mean lower sales to a degree where they would be better off pricing at 59p or worse just not bothering.

    In fact, thinking about it, the games and apps I use most often have all been £1.19 and above. Or free of course :-D

  • Good point. Apple thinks it is the only add value by providing the platform. Microsoft has a more fair business model to the developer. I think the medium term, Apple will pay for this attitude, as it does the same with consumers.

  • Interesting topic, i’ve had this discussion before and it can get heated.

    I say if you’re not covering costs and you’ve got a great app, go from .99 to 1.99 for sure. If it’s worth it people will still buy it. Sure there are folks who’d only pay 99 cents for an app but you won’t lose half your potential customers and you’ll make double. Sounds like a net increase to me.

    It’s true though, that it’s tempting for developers to price at 99 cents for marketing reasons (and perhaps the fear or lack of know-how to market it properly). And i think it still suites a lot of apps. But yeah again I think that if it’s well-made and something uniquely useful or entertaining, most people will pay $2 as soon as they’d pay $1

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