You’re doing it wrong. This has been an internet meme for a while, and applies directly to the problem with paid apps, in particular, those in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. I’m hoping they don’t continue down this exact path when Windows 8 launches with its embedded app store.
The problem isn’t that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has a larger ratio of “paid apps” to “free apps” than iTunes or the Android Market – the problems is what those apps are. I don’t mind paying for apps, good apps in particular. Use a pro version instead of a lite version, pay for the developer’s time. Just imagine if they developed that app just for you, would you only feel compelled to give them a $1.99? No! It’s worth way more than that! You’re the one getting the bargain, so why not pay? Particularly, when the app is “worth it.”
What makes an App “worth it” is subjective. Very subjective. But I can tell you one of the things that, I feel, is not worth it, which is what I’m seeing a lot of in Windows Phone 7. RSS Feeds. If I want news from one of my favorite websites, I can go to that website and read it all day long. As we all know, the overwhelming majority of sites on the internet are not behind pay walls. This is the reality for content producers, and they’ve been struggling with ways to make money ever since. With the new ecosystem of Windows Phone 7, came the chance to lay down the corrective law and start turning a profit for the hard work developing apps. But the problem isn’t going to be solved by charging a dollar for your app, which has the same content as your website.
True, not every website is optimized for mobile browsing, and an app would be nice. But let’s be frank, why would you spend a dollar to read something you have been and will continue to read for free? There needs to be a proven value in your application, that goes above and beyond. Exclusive articles are hard to sell, people get touchy and will leave your website because they think you’re holding out on them – even though they’re not paying a dime. Still, perhaps the best solution might be offering some form of exclusive benefit, like industry interviews with people in your field, things that are going above and beyond that typical news articles. If you can get those interviews.
I don’t have the perfect solution, but I do have good news. From what I’ve seen, again, in particular on the WP7 Marketplace, it looks like a lot of the people trying to charge for what is little more than an RSS feed, are just people trying to make a buck off of others’ hard work. The developer is usually not affiliated with the actual website at all, and just popped and RSS feed reading app together with the RSS feed of a popular website, and is trying to pass it off as an app. I imagine many people are not getting suckered and I hope few are being sold, especially in cases like this. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see developers actually concentrate on making better decisions when they do decide to put their content on a mobile platform. Ad-Supported apps don’t bother me a bit, but when I do pay for an app, I expect at least something out of it, more than just saving me the time of typing a URL – and the good news is, I think the people managing their own brands and websites know that.