I had the luck of seeing Michael Jurewitz speak about App Store pricing at NSConference in 2013. At that time he was working at Black Pixel, between his positions at Apple. At the conference he presented a comprehensive analysis of App Store prices of application, specifically on the Mac App Store, at shared tips and suggestions. Luckily, you can now see the talk for free on the net. I suggest that you do – it’s a time well-spent.
For those who prefer to read, though, he later posted a series of posts at his blog, called “Understanding App Store Pricing“. The main takeaway from this analysis is that more expensive apps earn more, on average:
Apps on the Top Grossing list are, on average, 294% more expensive than apps on the Top Paid list
Thus, he suggests developers to try charing twice for their current applications, to test price elasticity, and for potentially higher earnings. Of course, raising prices will not necessary result in higher earnings but as most developers set their price on feelings or estimations and then never try changing it again, making this reality check may be worthwhile. App Store prices don’t have to be static.
From Mac to iOS
While the prices for productivity applications on the Mac have stayed relatively high, things have not been so good on iOS. Recent discussions in the blogosphere in the last couple of months raised the issue of lack of sustainability in the iOS market, with its rock-bottom prices. More and more indie developers were moving to consulting or to work at larger companies, including at Apple itself.
Recently, Q Branch, the company behind Vesper, released a new update, which added iPad support, among other things. The most important change, though, was the pricing. Vesper’s price increased from $2.99 to $9.99. John Gruber, one-third of Q Branch, posted the following in his Vesper update announcement:
Put another way, we’re going to charge something sane or die trying. We tried following the iOS App Store trend by pricing Vesper at just $2.99 for months. It didn’t work. Prices like that are not sane, and not sustainable, at least for well-crafted productivity apps. So Q Branch is drawing a line in the sand, and we hope other iOS developers will follow
Given that Gruber’s reach and influence among iOS developers is high, it will be interesting to see if their call to raise prices of apps on the App Store will be able to reverse the trend of low-priced apps. We shall see.