Have you ever searched the Apple App Store (really searched it) and noticed just how many thousands of ‘dead apps are out there? Apps with no updates or support provided seemingly since iPhone 3 was the next big thing? Dan Counsell has written a very interesting blog post about this phenomenon where he asserts that paid upgrades would help alleviate this issue and, ultimately, make a better experience for consumers.

Check it out here: The Mac App Store Still Needs Paid Upgrades

It’s true that the current model dis-incentivizes developers from writing major upgrades that would produce no financial windfall for the development company… but it’s also true that precedent in the software industry has set consumer expectations so that, unless ‘upgrades’ are complete overhauls, they are expected to be free.

  • Apple and Microsoft often release major upgrades in their Operating systems free of charge (the latter has recently announced that Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade, at least for a period of time)… but both companies use their Operating System as part of a larger business plan that offers revenue-generating services via those OS
  •  Major 3rd software vendors often release free upgrades for their software, but, just as often, charge subscription or maintenance fees. 
  • Major App companies offer free upgrades, but often monetize their services with paid advertisements

Clearly, smaller and mid-sized development companies who don’t want to drive their core user-base away with annoying in-app ads would write better updates to existing apps if they could charge for those updates. And the market would then determine if consumers are willing to pay for these kinds of enhancements. The offering could be a huge disappointment, or a raging success – but for Apple to not, at least, provide companies the incentive and customers to pathway to explore this avenue seems obtuse and out-of-touch with the kind of dynamics that drive innovation.

What do you think? Would paid update offerings on the Apple App Store be a hit or miss?


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