Developing Perspective

#66: Pricing for Features


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:05   news of note in iOS development, Apple, and the like. I'm your host, David Smith. I'm

00:00:09   an independent iOS developer based in Herne, Virginia. This is show number 66, and today

00:00:14   is Wednesday, July 18th. Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's

00:00:19   get started.

00:00:20   So first, I have a couple of, I guess, sort of housekeeping or more logistical matters,

00:00:26   just to kind of mention.

00:00:27   First is I'm going to do a survey that's a little bit even

00:00:33   perhaps overwrought to call it a survey.

00:00:35   I have two questions that I'd love to hear back

00:00:38   from my listeners as I'm kind of doing a few things, kind of thinking

00:00:41   about the future of developing perspective, where it's going to go,

00:00:44   and kind of how people get it.

00:00:45   And specifically, it's really just two things.

00:00:48   One, how often would you like episodes to come out?

00:00:52   So it's like, is it once a week, twice a week, three times a week,

00:00:56   four times a week, or you don't care?

00:00:58   And really what I'm asking for that is right now I just kind of do it

00:01:03   a couple of times a week.

00:01:04   Sometimes it's once, sometimes it's three or four times, I think.

00:01:08   And part of my goal is that it's something

00:01:11   that's a constant part of the discussion between you, the audience, and me.

00:01:17   So it's something that I'm doing on a very regular basis.

00:01:20   But obviously what I don't want it to do is for it to become, I don't know, sort of overburdening

00:01:26   in terms of like, for it to feel like, "Oh my goodness, there's, you know, dozens and

00:01:29   dozens of developing perspective episodes.

00:01:31   I'm never going to catch up."

00:01:32   And then you stop listening and that's not cool.

00:01:35   So it's kind of just, what would be that threshold for you?

00:01:39   What would you like to hear?

00:01:40   Is it, you know, once a week, twice a week, three times a week, four times a week?

00:01:44   I don't think I can do more than four times a week, so that's where I'm capping it.

00:01:48   or if you just don't care, just put that too.

00:01:51   And then related to that, I've been thinking about whether it would be good or not for

00:01:57   the show to be published, not necessarily recorded, but published on a regular schedule,

00:02:03   and if that's something that people would care about or not.

00:02:05   And by that I mean, say for example, I get a lot of feedback and it ends up looking like

00:02:10   it would be best if I did say two episodes a week.

00:02:13   And I'm like, "Okay, well I'm going to do those episodes on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

00:02:17   and that's just sort of when they get released

00:02:20   and and they have made a recording of site for times but that's kind of a

00:02:24   schedule that you can rely on a friend in three episodes week like they're

00:02:28   released on

00:02:29   monday's wednesday and friday

00:02:31   for example

00:02:32   uh... there are there if that just doesn't matter if like the red way

00:02:34   they're doing it right now where they just kind of

00:02:37   you know they disappear

00:02:38   uh... yes as you want

00:02:40   if that if that works then great if not then

00:02:43   you know just let me know and some basically if it could be very helpful for

00:02:46   me

00:02:47   if you hear this to just uh...

00:02:49   quickly take the survey like that's two questions should take no more than about

00:02:52   ten seconds to do

00:02:54   uh... and pieces we get it

00:02:55   is to just go to developing perspective dot com slash survey

00:02:59   or the loss of the link in the show notes for this uh... this episode that

00:03:02   has it

00:03:03   they had just developing perspective dot com slash survey should take ten seconds

00:03:06   and it is the helpful for me to get a sense of it for cells a call is ask

00:03:09   people to

00:03:10   you know, reply to me on Twitter or something, but that's going to be hard to manage.

00:03:13   So that's why I just have this, you know, ridiculously simple survey.

00:03:16   It really would be a big help to me if you just kind of said, answer those two questions

00:03:20   to help me kind of, you know, form and mold the show to be best for you guys.

00:03:25   All right, second thing I have is a correction.

00:03:28   So in yesterday, in the last show, I talked about the Edge Cases podcast.

00:03:34   And in it, I accidentally and brutally mispronounced Wolf's name.

00:03:39   It is Wolf Wrench, not Wolf Resnick, and I'm not really sure where that came from, but

00:03:44   apologies to Wolf.

00:03:46   And it is Wolf Wrench.

00:03:48   And again, I can just mention the show.

00:03:49   It's the Edge Cases podcast.

00:03:51   You can find it all over the place.

00:03:53   It's a great show.

00:03:54   And my apologies for the brutal mispronunciation, and thanks to Neylan for pointing that out.

00:04:00   All right.

00:04:02   The next thing I was going to mention is I've been thinking about doing a new icon for developing

00:04:08   perspective, commissioning a designer to come up with a new logo treatment for it.

00:04:14   Just the one I have in there now is about a year old.

00:04:16   I did it myself in 10 minutes in Photoshop.

00:04:19   It's just a picture of a cup of coffee with developing perspective written on it.

00:04:23   And that's OK.

00:04:25   But I feel like at this point, this show is something that I think has longevity and staying

00:04:31   power and I'm going to expect to just keep doing it.

00:04:34   And so I wanted to make sure it has a nice face to put forward.

00:04:38   And so I'm thinking of doing an icon.

00:04:40   And the reason I mention that here is not as a call for spec work or something,

00:04:46   but if you're a designer who enjoys the show and likes the show

00:04:51   and does freelance graphic design and logo design

00:04:57   and has a good portfolio that I can look at and so on,

00:05:01   please reach out to me either on twitter

00:05:04   uh... i'm underscored it's not fair

00:05:06   or if you go to david's david dash smith dot com slash about you can get my email

00:05:11   address there

00:05:12   uh... man i'd just you know there's part of the district would love for it to be

00:05:17   uh... for for the logo treatment to come from a listener

00:05:20   i would just be awesome and so that i mentioned here

00:05:23   uh...

00:05:23   they said it's not like a alone with the president of some of the committee free

00:05:26   be a look into do not pay you normal rate and so on

00:05:29   uh... and you have looked for yourself with your portfolio but it's just the

00:05:32   best way for me i think to get a lead would be to look at

00:05:36   yes it's true of my audience see if there's anybody out there

00:05:39   you know from who would like to do who would like to do a logo treatment for

00:05:42   the podcast

00:05:43   and answer start from there

00:05:46   all right so the topic

00:05:47   uh... for today show

00:05:49   uh... it kak sheik comes from a question from nailing beyond where

00:05:53   and this is related to what i was talking about a couple of episodes ago

00:05:56   where i was talking about

00:05:57   core data sinking and this is specifically episode sixty four footnotes

00:06:01   on side projects and i cloud data sink alab link in the show notes if you want

00:06:05   to

00:06:06   uh... listen to that

00:06:07   but basically it was a question of

00:06:10   yes if i'm thinking about

00:06:12   uh... data sink in applications and how i should do it and what that would look

00:06:15   like

00:06:16   and

00:06:17   uh... he has the question

00:06:18   if i was to use some of these hosted services like some period math parses

00:06:22   another one

00:06:23   uh... what i do in that purchase to cover the fee

00:06:26   uh... and would that be service subscription with that the one-time

00:06:30   purchase

00:06:31   and

00:06:32   it's interesting and i think it's a really good question and that's i think

00:06:35   well so that will be unpacking for the rest of the show

00:06:38   uh... and so

00:06:39   the it more interesting part of that to me

00:06:42   is

00:06:43   how you price the app itself

00:06:46   uh... so right now that i'm talking about doing this to is my recipe book

00:06:49   which is a recipe book manager you know you enter your recipes and organizes

00:06:53   imagines of them for you

00:06:55   and my recipe book right now is an iPad only application

00:06:58   and I have an iPhone version that's like ninety nine percent done, I'm mostly just

00:07:02   waiting on sync for it to be done

00:07:04   and so I guess it's not ninety nine percent done

00:07:07   the functionality of that application is mostly there except for sync

00:07:12   and I'm also going to be working on a Mac client for it

00:07:15   and the interesting question I've been stuck with for a little bit was

00:07:18   as I've been working on this iPhone version of it is the classic

00:07:22   question of should I make it

00:07:24   a universal app which is essentially giving the iPhone version to all of my existing customers

00:07:31   for free, or should I make it a separate purchase and then, for example, charge for sync as

00:07:41   just an in-app purchase? So you would give it away for free to everybody if it was universal,

00:07:48   then you'd pay me a couple of bucks or whatever to then support the sync and infrastructure

00:07:54   back and forth.

00:07:57   It's a tricky question because on the one hand, making it a universal app is great for

00:08:04   customers in the sense that it's nice and simple, it's nice and straightforward in terms

00:08:10   of what it does and how it works.

00:08:13   They just buy one thing and if they've bought it before then they have it and it just works.

00:08:18   works, and that's great. If I do separate apps, I have the advantage then of probably

00:08:26   making a little bit more money, or at least initially making some more money, by being

00:08:32   able to capitalize my existing user base, many of whom may have iPhones or iPod Touches,

00:08:37   and I can then get whatever, a buck or two from them additionally, which would be great.

00:08:45   And it's a funny thing, though, because ultimately, the app has been reasonably successful, but

00:08:53   it has only been bought by a minute fraction of iOS people, of customers who have iPhones

00:09:01   or iPads.

00:09:02   And so the biggest source of revenue that I can get, more likely than not, is to continue

00:09:10   to grow my user base.

00:09:12   And so my gut says, what I need to do

00:09:15   is do things that will make people happy, rather than doing

00:09:20   things that may necessarily have short-term financial benefit.

00:09:26   That if I can continue to have--

00:09:28   I think MyRCTBook is actually-- I mean, it's one of the things

00:09:31   that I'm most proud of, is that it consistently

00:09:33   has a five-star rating in the App Store, which is not

00:09:37   necessarily an easy thing.

00:09:38   But people love the app, and they love to use it.

00:09:41   And what I don't want to do is for people to all of a sudden feel like,

00:09:45   I don't know, that's--

00:09:46   you know, it's like, oh, you mean I have to pay again

00:09:49   if I want to use it on my iPhone?

00:09:50   That's lame.

00:09:52   Like, versus one day just showing up and saying, hey,

00:09:56   the app is now universal.

00:09:57   You can use it on your iPhone if you have one.

00:09:59   Enjoy.

00:10:01   And so, you know, that's great.

00:10:03   But then it gets to the question of, to would I charge for sync?

00:10:07   And I'm not sure.

00:10:10   the tricky part is you can't ever-- it never really works to sync or to give something

00:10:17   away for free and then to change your mind and charge for it. And so the challenge, of

00:10:23   course, with sync is there's a certain per user cost if I'm going with an external service,

00:10:28   which I'm pretty sure I'm going to for at least a lot of the sync stuff. And so I can

00:10:34   sort of just absorb that into the price of the application, which is great, one way to

00:10:39   do it, or I can charge for it, say as an in-app purchase or something like that, and that

00:10:46   sort of gets around it. But I'm still kind of stuck because there's such this part of

00:10:53   me that, and I wish it wasn't the case in some ways, but there's this power in the App

00:11:00   Store that I've experienced many, many times that if you create a value that's not going

00:11:08   a high sort of incredible value proposition for customers,

00:11:12   you are very well rewarded for that.

00:11:15   And by that I mean if you make an excellent app

00:11:17   and charge a relatively low price for it,

00:11:20   do you-- I mean, it's like the way of finding

00:11:22   if you make it up in volume.

00:11:23   It's like, you do.

00:11:25   And moreover than that, it's just that you're pricing

00:11:29   and you're expanding the proportion of the market that

00:11:33   is willing to pay for your application.

00:11:35   And that is, I think, a very powerful tool.

00:11:39   It's not necessarily that by charging less for your application

00:11:44   that you're getting less money from the same people is one way to think about it.

00:11:52   But if you could declare classic microeconomics, by lowering your price,

00:11:55   you're expanding your market.

00:11:57   And the app store's market is so large, and the environment for software

00:12:03   development is so competitive that ultimately that's usually

00:12:08   where you want to be. And you know, there's a lot of debate on

00:12:10   that. And you're just like, but ultimately, that's, you know,

00:12:12   it's like, Oh, it's the race to the bottom, and it's killing

00:12:14   developers. And it's like, the ultimate challenge is, I think a

00:12:18   lot of developers have an overblown perception of the

00:12:24   value of their software. And by that, I mean that as the as I

00:12:31   And this is, again, sort of a classic microeconomics.

00:12:34   But the price of something will likely ultimately

00:12:39   reach the marginal cost to produce that item.

00:12:43   And in software, the marginal costs are incredibly low.

00:12:46   And a marginal cost, if you're not familiar with it,

00:12:48   is essentially, what is the cost to produce

00:12:50   one more of that thing?

00:12:53   And so in software, conceptually,

00:12:55   your marginal cost of adding one more

00:13:00   user to your application is sort of some aggregate of the support

00:13:05   costs for them, any bandwidth or server infrastructure costs,

00:13:08   those types of things, which are typically fairly low.

00:13:11   And so that'll naturally drive the price down.

00:13:15   And especially in a market like the App Store,

00:13:17   where there is nothing to prevent competitors copying,

00:13:23   coming in, building almost exactly or exactly the same application

00:13:27   that you did, there are things that perhaps they can't do.

00:13:29   from a copyright perspective, that if you created an application with exactly the same

00:13:34   logo and UI, you'd have a copyright claim against them.

00:13:37   But ultimately, you're in a very, very free and competitive market.

00:13:43   And this is just sort of classic capitalism, that that will naturally drive down prices.

00:13:47   And rather than fighting that, I tend to just embrace that and have relatively low prices

00:13:52   that have thus far had relatively high volumes.

00:13:57   And so that's kind of where I've been playing.

00:13:58   And I think that's likely where I'm going.

00:14:00   And my hope, I think, is likely that I'll

00:14:04   be able to offer sync, make the app universal,

00:14:07   and see if that makes people happy.

00:14:12   And I hope it does.

00:14:13   It may not be able to, but I have

00:14:15   to finish crunching the numbers to make sure

00:14:16   that I'm not totally shooting myself in the foot.

00:14:19   But that's kind of where I'm leading.

00:14:21   Or at least that's where I'm starting.

00:14:23   And then as I head forward into that,

00:14:26   I'm going to see if that makes sense.

00:14:28   And if not, where can I pull back from that?

00:14:33   Anyway, that will at least annoy my users and best just

00:14:36   make passionate customers who love and recommend

00:14:39   my app to everybody.

00:14:41   So anyway, that's it for today's show.

00:14:43   If you have any thoughts on that, please let me know.

00:14:45   I'm on Twitter @_davidsmith.

00:14:48   The Twitter feed for this show is devperspective.

00:14:51   And that's where you can get updates

00:14:53   whenever new shows are linked.

00:14:54   As a quick reminder, I'd love it if you could take that survey,

00:14:58   developingperspective.com/survey.

00:15:00   It should take about five seconds.

00:15:02   But otherwise, I hope you have a good week, and happy coding.

00:15:05   Bye.