An app quandary

I feel as though a number of things are coming to a head.

There has been some great discussion over the past few days around subscription pricing for apps as opposed to services, which we're all used to.

Discussion and emotion.

I can see the argument from both sides as to whether upgrade pricing or subscription is better (it's not always going to be the same) but, for me, a single monthly payment to get the same app on all devices made a lot of sense, especially with my current usage patterns.

The big question being "is it worth it?"

That's the value proposition we can only answer on an individual basis.

There's no argument that subscription pricing is not sustainable if it becomes the dominant business model. There are only so many monthly payments people will stomach and the app economy will become infinitely more competitive should we charge headlong in that direction.

Consumers will be far more selective in their choices and, potentially, purchase considerably fewer apps as a result.

From the other extreme, developers equally cannot sustain a model where, to attract a larger user base, pricing is a race to the bottom and there is no ongoing income once the market has been saturated.

Individual apps, however, are only part of my personal quandary.

I love Ulysses (I'm writing this post using it) but it is not perfect, for me.

As we saw yesterday, it doesn't support features I'd like to use from Markdown Extra or the addition of values to custom fields. Both "shortcomings" cause me to take extra steps when publishing certain types of post.

I enclose shortcomings in quotes because I am an edge case and these problems are specific to me. Would I like it if this functionality were added? Of course! I'd be very happy, but it is not cost effective to meet individual wants ahead of the needs of the wider user base.

Drafts allows me to type Markdown Extra syntax, even if it doesn't understand it, but needs me to take extra steps in other directions. It also requires something else to actually do the posting - in my case this is Workflow.

And we all know the concerns surrounding that since being acquired by Apple.

Just to complicate matters even further, Greg (from Agile Tortoise) has said that the next version of Drafts will also move to a subscription model, albeit cheaper than Ulysses and with different tiers.

So I end up in a position where there is no perfect solution to my needs and I either pay for two incomplete workflows (no pun intended) or cut my loses, choosing one and working around the issues.

This is just my example but I'm sure there are others in similar situations with other apps who will be forced into choices simply because they cannot justify a glut of monthly subscriptions.

Developers will find it harder to fill the gaps in order to gain or retain customers and I feel that upfront cost versus subscription pricing will become as much a factor in purchase choice (and, by logical extension, marketing) as app functionality.

  1. nitinkhanna says: #
    @colinwalker could you tell me the source of your comment “Greg (from Agile Tortoise) has said that Drafts will move to a subscription model”? I’d like to see that. Reading your post spurred a whole thought process in my mind about apps I’ve paid for and acquired for free.
  2. nitinkhanna says: #
    @colinwalker Ah… A screenshot if you will? Or was that all he said? If so then leave it. Drafts is something I’ve always looked at with wonder, much like Workflow. I snagged the latter when it went free, and I was right – it didn’t pose a very big usecase for me other than maybe 2 things I could do with it.

    I own an app called Quick Drafts. It does almost the same things as Drafts but I’ve never been able to look at it from the perspective of using it daily. That’s why I’ve always been apprehensive of spending a lot of cash on Drafts…

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