Monday, March 15, 2010

Why I'll Never Buy an iPod Touch App

A few months ago, I was nearly convinced that I needed to buy my first iPod Touch app.

App developers have a cunning strategy: Offer a free version of an app as an enticement to folks like me who are, shall we say, cheap bastards, to tantalize us with the shiny buttons and nifty gewgaws they have created. Once hooked, it should be a simple thing to reel us in to buy the paid app to "unlock' new "features" in order to enhance our iPod experience, postpone the Rapture and otherwise make the Venkman Postulation* come through for the app developer.

But I stepped back from the abyss. I did not buy that vaunted app, nor, as I think about it, am I likely to ever buy an app unless one comes out that truly puts the magic into that iPod Touch. Here's why:

The Internet has already taught me that everything is free. And thanks to the free versions of the apps people offer, I will continue to enjoy my freeloading life as long as humanly possible. You've aided and abetted my freedom for free by offering the free versions of your apps. Good job!

Free apps help me avoid buyer's remorse. We've all been there and can mostly agree that it's not the having that's fun, it's the getting.A few months ago, I was nearly convinced that I needed to buy my first iPod Touch app. But now we can get and have our cake too, with free versions. That app I really wanted, the one I thought I'd buy? I let the free app sit on my iPod Touch for a few weeks, then used it again. I still really enjoy it. But do I need to pay for the full version? No, I do not. I can have the fun with the free app without paying the piper.

Something else free will always come along. It's not that I have a short attention span. Far from it. But if I really want to buy an app, I hold off. I experiment with a few more free apps. I find the entertainment I want without paying for it. Wheee! If I get to the point I want to buy something, I sample something else. Never have to spend a penny.

Ads? Guilt-inducing messages? Who cares? Sure, one game I have uses what could be handy playing space to display ads. Sure, other apps I use pop up annoying messages (some of them even titled "Annoying Message") telling me I should really, really buy the full version of the app if I want the developer to continue producing such wonderful material. I say: Meh. If not you, then someone else will produce what I need. Even with the really unique applications that only one person is producing. If you want people to pay for what you make, then charge for it. Putting these little annoying messages in or putting up ads doesn't drive the guilt factor here. Nothing to see. Move along.

If your app is so unique, why are there six like it in the store? Conversely, there are those who create a really wonderful app that, when you get right down to it, is practically the same as apps already offered in the store or apps that came with the iPod Touch to begin with. For example, I know some folks who have just created a stopwatch app. Now, it has a cool circular dial just like Jeffe's stopwatch, but let's face it -- if you want a stopwatch or a lap timer or alarm, you know, those features are (whisper) already there. Hope they weren't planning on charging for their app.

I harp a lot on app makers here. But have I ever made one myself? No. But soon I'll be involved in making one. Which we'll offer for free, because we're much more interested in creating a mobile application for our travel website than we are in making money from the app itself. Would we ever offer a paid app? Possibly. But you can bet I'll make sure it's downright magical before we do.

*"The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams."

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