Under the Radar

Under the Radar 42: Getting Next Year's Customers


00:00:00   welcome to under the radar or show about

00:00:02   independent iOS app development I'm

00:00:04   Marco Arment and I'm David Smith under

00:00:06   the radar is never longer than 30

00:00:08   minutes so let's get started so today we

00:00:12   wanted to talk a little bit about a

00:00:14   couple of different topics but largely

00:00:15   around that the the theme of shutting

00:00:18   something down and specifically drawing

00:00:21   on some of the experiences from this

00:00:22   past week where the app vesper which was

00:00:25   made by brent simmons dave wiskus and

00:00:28   John Gruber announced that they are

00:00:29   going to be closing down after you know

00:00:31   several your run of being in the App

00:00:33   Store and they handled that process both

00:00:36   really well and I think that's something

00:00:37   that I think we wanted to expand upon a

00:00:40   little bit and talk about how to

00:00:42   actually walk through closing something

00:00:44   down when it's time you know the time

00:00:46   has come for it to be shut down how to

00:00:48   do it in a classy and you know good for

00:00:50   your users kind of way and then also

00:00:52   they've they've both written a lot of

00:00:55   post mortems and kind of thoughts about

00:00:57   the process and some of them are relates

00:00:58   to the modern App Store and ways of

00:01:02   pricing things and where things that may

00:01:04   have worked out differently you know if

00:01:05   they have it approached the app

00:01:07   differently would it have been

00:01:07   successful in a different way I think

00:01:10   are all very relevant to you know to us

00:01:12   in our discussion but I think first the

00:01:14   best place to start is just to talk

00:01:15   about the way they shut down vesper and

00:01:17   so you know Brent posted and they didn't

00:01:20   serve this last update I just think it's

00:01:21   been quite a while since they had done a

00:01:23   previous update and they didn't update

00:01:25   and basically all it does is it adds the

00:01:26   ability to export all of your data out

00:01:28   of the app they made the app free so

00:01:31   that you it just because like why not

00:01:34   and they've turned off the ability to

00:01:36   create new sync accounts which and then

00:01:39   their sync service will be going away

00:01:40   soon and overall I was when I saw that

00:01:42   it was like that is just like the classy

00:01:44   way to do it like they've put in the

00:01:46   extra effort even though necessarily

00:01:48   there's nothing not a specific return

00:01:50   for this effort because the app has

00:01:53   become now free they put in the effort

00:01:56   to make it so that if you're an existing

00:01:57   customer you're taken care of and

00:01:58   whenever I see you I'm gonna see some

00:02:00   like that I like I was not surprised

00:02:02   given the people who are doing this but

00:02:03   it was a good reminder that there will

00:02:06   come a time with all of our products

00:02:07   where we have to just you know probably

00:02:09   gonna have to you know turn things off

00:02:10   and it's something

00:02:13   worth planning for and thinking through

00:02:14   and then you know probably encourage

00:02:16   also just the being thoughtful about

00:02:18   what's best for your customers in that

00:02:19   situation you know it's it's an

00:02:22   unfortunate reality that in in this

00:02:24   business basically nothing is permanent

00:02:27   this is one of the reasons you know

00:02:29   going back kind of to the to the big

00:02:31   picture for a second like the the the

00:02:33   possibility for the apps we we use and

00:02:36   possibly depend on to ultimately shut

00:02:38   down or be sold or whatever the case may

00:02:41   be to change in a way that either shuts

00:02:43   them down completely or that make it so

00:02:44   that we can't or don't want to use them

00:02:46   anymore really underscores the

00:02:48   importance of keeping your data if

00:02:51   possible in open formats or at least

00:02:53   preserving the option like what vesper

00:02:56   did to export into open formats and

00:02:59   there's there some discussion too about

00:03:02   like whether they are morally obligated

00:03:04   to open-source it or not I I think in

00:03:08   Brent's original post he made a pretty

00:03:11   good case for why like they might

00:03:13   open-source it but it's not necessarily

00:03:15   a sure thing that they should or need to

00:03:17   because like this is really old code

00:03:19   because it was it was originally written

00:03:20   for iOS 6 and a lot of it is not

00:03:23   particularly useful in the modern era of

00:03:25   like modern iOS capabilities that they

00:03:28   like now here at the same thing today

00:03:30   you'd use way less code and ultimately I

00:03:32   don't believe that anybody is entitled

00:03:34   to the source could have another

00:03:35   application if they if they paid five

00:03:37   bucks for it once two years ago like

00:03:38   that's that to me is just not not a

00:03:41   thing I think it's a it's a courtesy if

00:03:43   you can open-source that it's kind of

00:03:44   interesting a little bit but it's not

00:03:46   you know the panacea that some people

00:03:48   think they need and deserve and and if

00:03:50   you if it's very important to you to

00:03:52   have open source stuff if an app goes

00:03:54   out of business I think the only way you

00:03:56   can actually do that is to use an app

00:03:58   that is open source from the beginning

00:03:59   anyway so you know I've gone through a

00:04:03   few product transitions myself the only

00:04:07   thing that's actually shut down is the

00:04:08   magazine but you know who knows what

00:04:11   what the future will hold there it's

00:04:13   tough but it's the reality I mean this

00:04:14   was an you know vesper was an app that

00:04:16   that all of its creators were very clear

00:04:18   that they would have liked to have more

00:04:21   time to spend working on it they would

00:04:22   have liked for it to continue and to be

00:04:24   worth working on but it didn't bring in

00:04:26   enough

00:04:27   money to be full timing comes to justify

00:04:30   the work that it would have taken to

00:04:31   make it really the next level and to

00:04:33   make the mac app and to make everything

00:04:35   else it needed that's just how it goes

00:04:36   sometimes that you know that's just the

00:04:38   reality of product development sometimes

00:04:41   it doesn't work out and when you're when

00:04:44   you're choosing to work on a side

00:04:46   project like this was for all three of

00:04:48   its developers it has to somehow justify

00:04:50   the time you're putting into it and in

00:04:52   this case also the the money that they

00:04:55   were paying to host the sync service and

00:04:56   to end a license the font and so you

00:04:59   know they had ongoing costs they were

00:05:02   faced with the problem of time

00:05:04   investment that it needed and there

00:05:06   simply wasn't enough revenue coming in

00:05:08   to make it worth it and that's

00:05:11   unfortunate on so many levels for so

00:05:13   many reasons especially with with this

00:05:16   group of people and with this app

00:05:17   because it was a very good app and these

00:05:19   were very high-profile developers who

00:05:21   they got a lot of good publicity from

00:05:23   themselves and others because of their

00:05:25   position and because it was a good app

00:05:26   and it still didn't work out so I think

00:05:28   there's a lot we can unpack from this

00:05:30   and a lot we can learn from this from

00:05:32   the market today

00:05:33   yeah and it's I think there's something

00:05:35   to to be said that it's it's it is it's

00:05:39   a very strange thing to say but in a

00:05:40   small way I find it slightly encouraging

00:05:43   that the vesper didn't work out and and

00:05:46   I want to explain that but I mean is any

00:05:49   project that any of us do even if it has

00:05:52   everything going for it in terms of you

00:05:55   you know there's not a lot of things

00:05:56   that you could kind of imagine or draw

00:05:59   up that would be like put the app put

00:06:00   your app if you whatever you're working

00:06:02   on and in a better place as a starting

00:06:04   off point then I think what vesper had

00:06:06   but it's a reminder of how even if you

00:06:10   have everything going for you and you

00:06:11   make something awesome that's not

00:06:13   necessarily going to be enough that like

00:06:16   and that's in some ways I find that

00:06:19   encouraging because it's a reminder that

00:06:20   you it's not but even having all those

00:06:24   things you want you're not guarantee

00:06:25   success so even if you don't have those

00:06:27   things you're in suddenly in a weird way

00:06:29   much the same in the same boat you know

00:06:31   your there's going to be a certain a

00:06:33   certain degree of look about whether

00:06:35   it's you know whether it's going to hit

00:06:37   the right group whether you approach

00:06:38   things in the right way

00:06:40   I mean in reading through their post

00:06:41   mortems about the experience it's like

00:06:43   there's things that they look back and

00:06:44   they made choices that they would do

00:06:46   differently now and there are people who

00:06:49   really understand the AppStore who are

00:06:50   very smart developers and designers and

00:06:52   you know they made decisions that in

00:06:54   some ways they wish they would have

00:06:55   changed too and I don't have any weird

00:06:57   way it's like it's nice to have that the

00:06:59   humanity of that of like yeah it's

00:07:00   difficult it's tough and it's a good

00:07:03   reminder that if you know I when I

00:07:05   launch things if they don't work out the

00:07:06   way that I might want them to be it's

00:07:08   like that's just that's just the table

00:07:10   stakes that's just the reality of the

00:07:12   game of making software and putting it

00:07:13   into a market that sometimes it's not

00:07:16   gonna work

00:07:16   and it's also a good reminder to of you

00:07:19   know it's so easy I think to discredit

00:07:21   an initiative like that that's nice for

00:07:24   kind of a problem where it's like when

00:07:26   you see someone punch something and they

00:07:28   have the big publicity it's like yeah

00:07:30   that's nice I suppose but like that's

00:07:32   not a guarantee of success either

00:07:33   ultimately the work and effort that

00:07:36   it'll take for something to be

00:07:37   successful isn't just based on who you

00:07:41   are that it there's more to it than that

00:07:42   and that just seems like a good reminder

00:07:44   that this is as sad as it is as a as an

00:07:48   event that's exactly it I mean like you

00:07:50   know I've said for years and nobody

00:07:52   believes me because I have I'm the

00:07:53   benefit I'm the beneficiary of publicity

00:07:56   because I have an audience but I've said

00:07:59   for years that you know having a built

00:08:01   an audience or being like a quote famous

00:08:03   developer or whatever else it does help

00:08:05   you a lot at launch time it is something

00:08:07   that can basically guarantee you a

00:08:10   certain minimum level of success at

00:08:12   launch but it is not a substitute for a

00:08:16   good product market fit it is not going

00:08:20   to save you from market realities and is

00:08:22   not really going to help you that much

00:08:24   in the law it'll help a little bit it's

00:08:26   not gonna help you that much in the long

00:08:27   term you know in this case Vesper was a

00:08:31   note-taking app and it was it things a

00:08:33   little bit differently than another

00:08:34   note-taking app so it had like a couple

00:08:36   of you of unique features and design

00:08:37   choices and also of course it looked

00:08:40   really nice but you know I was using

00:08:41   designed more in the feature sense there

00:08:43   and they did a whole bunch of custom UI

00:08:47   text field jumbling basically like

00:08:50   worked to work around UI tech field

00:08:52   limitations to make it really

00:08:54   to do what they wanted to right before

00:08:56   all that stuff became a lot easier so

00:08:59   they had they had like you know market

00:09:01   timing problem number one of the hate

00:09:04   they did a whole lot of work to to hack

00:09:07   around UI text fields problems right

00:09:09   before the api's made unnecessary they

00:09:11   also did a huge amount of design and

00:09:14   work making a clean simple design

00:09:17   looking app running on iOS 6 and then

00:09:19   iOS 7 came in and changed everything

00:09:22   about design and made a whole bunch of

00:09:23   that stuff easier later they had the

00:09:26   issue of when they launched the the

00:09:28   third-party notes category was a lot

00:09:31   healthier than it is now because Apple

00:09:33   Notes was terrible and then in the

00:09:35   meantime Apple Notes got really good it

00:09:38   got that big update was it iOS 8 I think

00:09:40   so yeah with cloud kit I think so they

00:09:43   came out and it was first using it and

00:09:45   would dramatically improve the sink

00:09:47   system and that you didn't have to use

00:09:48   web dev and I think that was eight yeah

00:09:50   eight or nine whenever it was you know

00:09:52   Apple Notes got a ton better like

00:09:55   massively so and to everyone's great

00:09:57   surprise I think I mean I don't think

00:09:59   anybody expected Apple to ever really

00:10:01   care that much about their Notes app and

00:10:03   to add the level of features that they

00:10:04   did but anyway Apple Notes comes out is

00:10:07   awesome and takes away much of vespers

00:10:10   market gain or rather much of Esper's

00:10:13   purpose in the market I think not all of

00:10:16   it of course because you know there's a

00:10:17   lot of things that vesper still did

00:10:18   better for a lot of people but it

00:10:21   certainly took a lot of the window that

00:10:22   out of those sales so it was it was

00:10:24   impacted a lot by the market in general

00:10:26   but also I think in John Gruber's post

00:10:30   earlier his big post-mortem about it I

00:10:32   think he just pointed also that the

00:10:35   pricing model was just also fairly

00:10:37   outdated and that's something I think we

00:10:39   have a lot to say about here so

00:10:41   originally a five dollar upfront app no

00:10:43   in-app purchase no recurring revenue

00:10:45   stream just five dollars and once

00:10:46   upfront same model I used back in the

00:10:48   day for instapaper sort of what I used

00:10:51   at the beginning of overcast but not

00:10:52   really a very popular model lots of

00:10:54   people use it especially in the early

00:10:56   days and the advantages of that model

00:10:58   are plenty I mean first of all it's very

00:11:00   very simple

00:11:01   as we discussed earlier in earlier

00:11:02   episodes about pricing in planning paid

00:11:04   upfront takes basically no work for the

00:11:06   developer you don't do you don't do

00:11:08   any in-app purchase code you don't do

00:11:09   any receipt checking any restore

00:11:11   purchases any anything really you just

00:11:13   kind of set the price in iTunes Connect

00:11:15   and that's it you're done so there's

00:11:17   lots of advantage of the developer it

00:11:18   also takes care of a lot of like

00:11:19   ambiguities of whether somebody bought

00:11:21   it at the right time or whatever you

00:11:22   know it it's all a lot of problems there

00:11:24   it also creates a few problems there is

00:11:27   no clear way to upgrade pricing there

00:11:29   you know it people have to pay before

00:11:32   they can even see the app so you have a

00:11:34   lot of unhappy people who buy the app

00:11:35   you get their money and then they kind

00:11:37   of don't like it so you it's kind of

00:11:39   like kind of unfair it's not really good

00:11:40   for customer satisfaction or your

00:11:43   reputation if the app doesn't live up to

00:11:45   it and people are unhappy with you and

00:11:47   then of course the big problem is that

00:11:50   these days it's really hard to get

00:11:52   people to pay for apps upfront that

00:11:54   that's a big one and I think we'll talk

00:11:56   more about that but first we'll talk

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00:13:39   supporting the show so one thing that I

00:13:42   wanted to sort of talk a little bit

00:13:44   through is related to this sort of this

00:13:47   concept of you know charging five

00:13:49   dollars upfront and the in my recent

00:13:53   experience it's something that I've sort

00:13:55   of started to wrap my my hands around is

00:13:57   the concept that is whenever I'm

00:13:59   building something it is so easy to

00:14:02   focus on the say the first month that

00:14:06   the app is going to be in market that

00:14:08   I'm gonna build something I'm gonna put

00:14:09   on the App Store and it's gonna go out

00:14:11   and my focus and my thinking and you

00:14:15   know both around the design the

00:14:17   development and everything pricing

00:14:18   marketing it's all about that first sort

00:14:21   of wave and in many ways that makes

00:14:24   sense that's logical like that's that is

00:14:26   after you know see you spend months and

00:14:28   months building something like that

00:14:29   first month is really exciting and

00:14:30   important to say at first day you know

00:14:32   we're seeing yourself you know hopefully

00:14:34   you know zoom up the add the charts in

00:14:35   the app store like that's really cool

00:14:36   but in the reality is that like

00:14:41   sustainable long-term viable businesses

00:14:44   are not made really at all in that first

00:14:47   month that in my experience in order for

00:14:52   you to have something that is viable

00:14:54   long term you have to have a model that

00:14:57   will work a year from now 18 months from

00:15:01   now and have an ongoing component to it

00:15:04   that works and does what you need it to

00:15:06   do and that is I worry that I think

00:15:09   we're as I've gone through this there's

00:15:12   so many I feel like I've had the

00:15:14   discussion in my mind and out loud

00:15:15   dozens and dozens of times about oh

00:15:18   what's the best model for pricing in the

00:15:19   App Store but at the end of the day I

00:15:21   think the simple like question that is

00:15:24   probably helpful as we think through

00:15:26   these types of things for our own

00:15:27   applications is how will I make money a

00:15:31   year from now doing what I'm doing and

00:15:34   if you don't have a good answer

00:15:35   then it's probably not a great you know

00:15:38   set up and if you actually remember back

00:15:39   one of the early episodes of

00:15:41   under-the-radar

00:15:42   we're talking about activity plus plus

00:15:44   and you know we were going back and

00:15:46   forth whether it should be free or paid

00:15:47   and there's an activity trapper tracking

00:15:50   app that I made and we ended up deciding

00:15:52   to do the paid upfront model and there

00:15:55   was a variety of reasons for that but

00:15:56   nevertheless it was an interesting and

00:15:57   recent data point for the same process

00:16:00   and what happened is I think which I

00:16:02   could have predicted would happen and I

00:16:04   was fine with happening but you know the

00:16:06   first couple weeks I didn't I was very

00:16:09   happy with it and then it very quickly

00:16:10   just fell down and is now continuing and

00:16:14   in a stable level that that stable level

00:16:16   is very close to zero it's not zero it's

00:16:21   you know it's just sort of mumbling

00:16:24   along on the bottom and if you look at

00:16:26   the you know the actual curve of it it's

00:16:27   very very minimal income at this point

00:16:29   and that for that particular app was

00:16:32   fine you know for what I was doing but

00:16:35   there's an example of that problem of it

00:16:37   if you can't have a good way of making

00:16:40   money down the road then your business

00:16:43   model is always gonna be stuck and I

00:16:45   think that is I think the most

00:16:46   fundamental problem with the paid

00:16:48   upfront model that we have right now

00:16:49   because every it's sort of like it's

00:16:53   almost like the opposite of the the

00:16:55   marginal cost advantage we know we're

00:16:57   over time like once I've made a piece of

00:16:59   software I can sell the next copy for

00:17:02   free essentially I don't have to build

00:17:03   it twice I made it once and I can keep

00:17:05   selling it and so you know the marginal

00:17:08   cost of that each subsequent purchase

00:17:11   goes down for me but in a weird way

00:17:15   acquiring your next customer after

00:17:17   you've gotten the first one gets

00:17:19   incrementally harder as you go and in

00:17:23   some in some ways necessarily that you

00:17:25   may have that initial burst of people

00:17:28   who are interested in it who are you

00:17:29   know sort of passionate about you're

00:17:30   doing or love in this case they love

00:17:32   notes apps or they take lots of notes

00:17:34   like you're the easy low-hanging fruit

00:17:37   type of customers that you may be able

00:17:40   to acquire but then each day you go on

00:17:43   from there if you want to be able to

00:17:45   have a sustainable and reliable income

00:17:47   stream

00:17:48   you have to have a way of getting more

00:17:49   and more people and you're starting to

00:17:51   get farther and farther from your own

00:17:53   you know through your own circles in

00:17:55   terms of if you're you know D what we

00:17:57   were just saying earlier about well it's

00:17:58   easy if you have a built-in audience

00:17:59   it's like well that's great

00:18:01   that first week but that doesn't help

00:18:03   you a month later or a year later when

00:18:06   everybody in your circle is aware of it

00:18:08   they know about it they've bought it or

00:18:10   have not bought it or you know and

00:18:11   that's where you find yourself and so

00:18:14   that's the thing that the interesting

00:18:15   thing that I've started to try and

00:18:17   filter my thinking through around

00:18:19   pricing and around business models is

00:18:21   it's not really caring too much about

00:18:24   that first you know that that first

00:18:26   period and thinking almost exclusively

00:18:28   about a year from now and if you don't

00:18:31   if you having a good plan for what that

00:18:32   looks like and if you do if you can

00:18:35   focus on that I feel like you're in a

00:18:36   much better place and maybe you're gonna

00:18:38   discount and lose a bit of potential

00:18:40   revenue that first week or so but

00:18:42   overall you know you'll make them you'll

00:18:44   make it back dramatically if you have a

00:18:46   much better position years down the road

00:18:48   especially if this is something that you

00:18:50   want to do long-term exactly I mean you

00:18:53   know you have to think about like your

00:18:55   from now because like we've like anybody

00:18:57   who has ever had a paid app in the store

00:18:59   has seen the exact same curve that you

00:19:01   that you've seen on activity plus plus

00:19:04   and probably many of your other apps

00:19:05   which is like that big long spike that

00:19:07   first like couple days or week where

00:19:08   it's great and then just a pretty quick

00:19:11   drop and then kind of a plateau kind of

00:19:14   like an asymptotic curve look into zero

00:19:17   basically that work kind of stays

00:19:18   indefinitely low or gets gradually lower

00:19:21   if it isn't at zero yet and you know

00:19:24   I've seen that I saw that with many of

00:19:26   my apps I saw that with instapaper every

00:19:28   every major version I saw it with bug

00:19:29   shot the whole thing I I saw it with

00:19:31   overcast when when like I longed even

00:19:34   though it was free it still had that one

00:19:36   time paid purchase so it was it kind of

00:19:39   had the same shape it was just a little

00:19:40   bit different dynamic but same shape of

00:19:42   great first couple of months and then

00:19:44   gradual decline you know and and just

00:19:47   slowly declining over time and that's

00:19:48   one of the reasons I switched to

00:19:50   recurring subscription payments for it

00:19:52   is because scription payments it's not

00:19:55   easy it's it's actually harder to get

00:19:57   people to pay that way but at least the

00:19:59   curve is going in the other direction

00:20:01   and it's not even going that far in the

00:20:03   direction and I'm going to have to add

00:20:04   more things behind that pay wall to make

00:20:07   it more healthy than it is now because

00:20:09   right now basically what happened with

00:20:11   overcast as a quick aside here the

00:20:14   patronage model I was trying to get five

00:20:15   percent of users to pay before there

00:20:18   were any features when it was just

00:20:20   goodwill based I achieved about one and

00:20:24   a half percent and it kind of plateaued

00:20:26   of that and so when I added dark mode

00:20:29   and file upload but is I think it's

00:20:31   mostly about dark mode just having those

00:20:34   two desirable features behind the

00:20:35   paywall rather than nothing made it go

00:20:37   from about 1.8 1.9 percent to about 3

00:20:40   percent but it is now plateauing at

00:20:43   about 3 percent that that that rate has

00:20:45   stopped growing and really I needed to

00:20:47   be more like 5 percent to really sustain

00:20:49   this healthily and so I'm going to have

00:20:52   to put more new features behind that and

00:20:54   so just so everyone knows like nothing

00:20:56   works perfectly like you know I no

00:20:59   matter what we say like you know when we

00:21:01   long something is here's how we think

00:21:02   it's going to go it doesn't always go

00:21:05   that way and you know when Vesper

00:21:07   launched at 5 bucks up front they

00:21:09   thought that was gonna work great

00:21:10   because for many people and for a while

00:21:11   it worked ok but then the market moved

00:21:15   over time they they found that you know

00:21:17   they ran into competition and other

00:21:18   another issues and it didn't work out so

00:21:21   well in the end so one thing that I

00:21:23   would definitely say is to basically

00:21:26   keep your mind and options open on

00:21:29   pricing and and how you make money

00:21:31   because even if you pick a certain model

00:21:34   at the beginning you will probably have

00:21:36   to change that and what and what you

00:21:38   think is the way to go might not be the

00:21:41   way to go 1 2 3 years from now you know

00:21:44   I'm now in that point with overcast

00:21:46   where I'm making enough that it's you

00:21:49   know it's it's okay

00:21:50   I'm not losing money on it but I would

00:21:52   ideally like to be making more to really

00:21:55   justify pouring even more time and

00:21:57   resources into it and having a little

00:21:58   bit more a little bit more Headroom on

00:22:00   the budget and so I got to figure out

00:22:03   something else like that's it like I'm

00:22:04   not I'm not just gonna sit here and do

00:22:06   nothing I got to figure something else

00:22:07   now the paid upfront model I think works

00:22:10   really well if your business model is I

00:22:13   don't care about next year

00:22:15   and there's lots of legitimate cases

00:22:17   where that is where that is true like if

00:22:19   you're making like a little special

00:22:20   utility app that is gonna be probably

00:22:22   not able to justify a whole bunch of

00:22:24   your ongoing time and your ongoing

00:22:25   maintenance ongoing updates and you're

00:22:28   maybe gonna have a lot of those that

00:22:29   probably makes more sense to be like all

00:22:31   right paid upfront it's a simple thing

00:22:32   people are gonna like buy it use it once

00:22:33   or twice and then their need for it will

00:22:35   go away or whatever else that's fine but

00:22:38   if you if you're trying to make

00:22:39   something that's gonna be like a

00:22:40   Productivity app that people are going

00:22:42   to ideally use every day for years

00:22:44   you're going to need a different model

00:22:46   because I think we've seen over and over

00:22:48   again that paid upfront for that is

00:22:49   really hard to make work yeah and I

00:22:52   think it's also an interesting that

00:22:55   there's there's some interesting

00:22:56   realities I think about the app store

00:22:57   too and I've noticed these in myself and

00:23:00   this is like a tricky thing too

00:23:03   in some ways I feel embarrassed about

00:23:04   talking about it but I noticed my in my

00:23:06   own when I'm in the App Store like now I

00:23:08   go to you know on my iPhone I open up

00:23:10   the App Store if I'm looking for an app

00:23:13   and I see that it's paid I have

00:23:16   tremendous reluctance to download it me

00:23:19   too

00:23:20   I feel bad about saying that because I'm

00:23:23   a software developer I'm an indie

00:23:25   software developer like I make my living

00:23:26   from people giving me money in the App

00:23:28   Store but I don't want to give anyone

00:23:30   else money and I think the reality about

00:23:33   that that I'm like which is where it's

00:23:34   like that's kind of in some ways a

00:23:35   profound thing to observe about myself

00:23:37   is if I don't want to do it why would

00:23:40   anyone else want to do it and give me

00:23:42   money like that's just the experience

00:23:44   we've had in the App Store and then you

00:23:46   could unpack like thousands of different

00:23:48   reasons why that's the case why I don't

00:23:51   want to pay money for apps in the App

00:23:53   Store anymore you know maybe it had been

00:23:55   burned in the past there's there's such

00:23:57   incredible competition there's a lots of

00:23:59   free alternatives you know it's like

00:24:00   unless it is an app essentially unless

00:24:02   the app was made by a friend of mine or

00:24:04   I absolutely have to have it for some

00:24:07   reason I would probably won't buy it I

00:24:09   will find a free alternative and that's

00:24:11   just like the reality and I could have

00:24:14   some high-minded ideals that oh no it's

00:24:16   you know a devalue software it makes our

00:24:17   craft less special or valuable or

00:24:20   whatever you could kind of imagine but

00:24:22   like that's the reality that when I look

00:24:24   at something I'm like mmm maybe not or

00:24:26   maybe I don't need it that much and

00:24:27   and having that honesty about myself I

00:24:30   think helps me understand my customers

00:24:32   better and understand the realities of

00:24:33   the store that we're selling in and

00:24:37   that's instructive I think that having

00:24:40   that feeling of saying like you know if

00:24:42   I'm not willing to provide for you know

00:24:44   pay for software hmm maybe why should I

00:24:46   expect that someone else would and that

00:24:48   leads me to you know now increasingly

00:24:50   like my focus is on you know free apps

00:24:52   and finding ways to make money in those

00:24:55   and I think overall that's better free

00:24:58   is great because it makes it there were

00:25:01   saying earlier where it gets

00:25:02   incrementally harder to find that next

00:25:07   customer in some ways a free app has the

00:25:08   opposite been because it's as you go it

00:25:12   starts you know you it has a much more

00:25:15   frictionless spreading phenomenon where

00:25:18   you know if someone if someone has your

00:25:19   app they like it they can tell someone

00:25:22   else and there's no cost for that

00:25:23   exchange it's not this like well here's

00:25:26   this app I really like it you know but

00:25:28   it there's no but there's not like but

00:25:30   it's a couple bucks like there's not the

00:25:31   sort of this apology that you have to

00:25:33   add to that if you're recommending it to

00:25:34   somebody yeah this is a barrier that

00:25:36   people have to have to decide whether

00:25:38   they want to go over or not I mean

00:25:39   ideally you don't want to put big

00:25:41   barriers in front of people before they

00:25:43   even have seen how good your app is

00:25:45   exactly like I mean you you want and I

00:25:49   think even there's this funny theater of

00:25:51   I feel like I have to keep in mind that

00:25:55   while I'm sitting in my office working

00:25:57   in Xcode making something it's so easy

00:25:59   to almost to like become precious about

00:26:02   my software and to like it over

00:26:04   emphasize what it is that something

00:26:06   could feel like if you know I've poured

00:26:08   my heart into this it's a you know it

00:26:10   you can make you can give it these

00:26:12   feelings that aren't really constructive

00:26:15   where at the end of the day it's just

00:26:16   it's an app that's going to be going

00:26:17   into a store with 2 million other apps

00:26:19   and is special and unique and as much of

00:26:22   a special snowflake is you feel like it

00:26:24   is it's probably not as specialists you

00:26:27   think it actually is and so being

00:26:30   realistic about that and understanding

00:26:31   that you know people aren't going to

00:26:33   want to just pay you money because they

00:26:35   your app is special like they won't know

00:26:37   it's special and even if they do know

00:26:39   it's special they may not care

00:26:41   I couldn't said it better myself I mean

00:26:43   it this is a very competitive market

00:26:45   it's so competitive there's so many

00:26:48   other apps out there you have to

00:26:50   convince people that they need yours and

00:26:52   if there's any barriers in front of that

00:26:55   they're going to cost you dearly and you

00:26:58   have to make money somewhere and it used

00:27:01   to be really easy to just put a paid up

00:27:02   front price on it and that worked pretty

00:27:04   well but that was back when the market

00:27:06   was less competitive and people were

00:27:08   more exploratory with how they spent

00:27:10   their money on the app store people

00:27:11   didn't people weren't already like kind

00:27:13   of burnt out on spending money on apps

00:27:15   to try them out that worked very well

00:27:17   for maybe two years at the be in the App

00:27:19   Store now it's different and how it's

00:27:22   harder it's a mature market there's way

00:27:24   more competition it's just harder and it

00:27:27   can be done but it's also going to be

00:27:29   very hard to do it in a way that can

00:27:32   fund somebody's lifestyle to be a

00:27:35   full-time job to work on a basic iOS app

00:27:38   that charges a couple bucks like you had

00:27:40   there has to be more to your strategy

00:27:42   than that and it's not easy and it's

00:27:44   getting a harder every year and there is

00:27:47   still a market there but you have to be

00:27:49   really savvy at trying to get it you

00:27:53   have to try a lot of things you have to

00:27:55   be willing to challenge lots of

00:27:56   assumptions and you have to be willing

00:27:58   to swallow your pride on a lot of the

00:28:00   stuff and it's unfortunate but that's

00:28:02   the reality of a very competitive low

00:28:04   profit business yeah I think those are

00:28:06   those two things that you just pointed

00:28:08   out are the key to all of this it's have

00:28:10   being creative and flexible about

00:28:12   approaches and then being humble about

00:28:14   your approach to things and not over

00:28:17   emphasizing or over exaggerating what

00:28:20   you're doing exactly I mean like I've

00:28:22   thought about like putting ads and

00:28:23   overcast like shed something I never

00:28:25   would have thought of years ago but now

00:28:27   I have a situation where I make no money

00:28:29   from 97% of the user base so I could

00:28:32   make some possibly even good money from

00:28:35   them if I put ads in it it's something

00:28:36   that I was all snobby about before but

00:28:38   now I'm actively considering it because

00:28:40   again like why should I leave that

00:28:42   option on or off the table whatever they

00:28:44   why should I not consider that option

00:28:46   because you know I once found them kind

00:28:49   of annoying like could is it possible to

00:28:51   do it well I don't know but we could

00:28:53   talk about that different episode when

00:28:54   we have more time

00:28:54   but that's you know you have to consider

00:28:56   everything now because it's it's so

00:28:59   competitive make no assumptions alright

00:29:03   and with that we are out of time thanks

00:29:05   a lot for listening everybody and we

00:29:06   will talk to you next week bye