How much do apps cost?
How much do applications really cost - and what makes them develop? Are we too focused on application monetization today? Troed Sångberg, an engineer and researcher at Sony Mobile's Technology office, posted his thoughts on this subject on a blog. The following is the full text of the post.
A few months ago, I decided to spend the weekend I had accumulated to do something really meaningful. My current job at a research center involves a lot of paper work, but I always thought that code was the language that could convey my thoughts.
So I made an application. It took me a week to launch the first version, which was launched the day before Christmas Eve, and was downloaded a hundred or more times before its first update.
I wanted to take my vacation with him, but in order to be able to return to him in the future, I immediately decided to do it properly. At home, I took up the development of documentation detailing the functionality, discussions on forums, and placing it in directories of similar applications. Being a true adherent of open systems, I also opened an account on Github, posted the code for new versions and made sure that each feature was developed in a separate branch (version control systems - approx. Per.) . Indeed, you can easily forget about many little things that are so simple, if you are only a developer and your only goal is the client.
And they started to download it. Hundreds, thousands of downloads. People contacted me on the forum, sent bug reports, there were many requests for additional functions, they sent translations to other languages to include them in future versions of the application. I found several video reviews of my application in different languages, found discussions on the forums.
So I continued to work on the application and develop its capabilities that did not benefit me, but, apparently, were very in demand by other people. I improved the testing environment and updated the database used by the application so that it would be easier to manage it with an increased number of hits. After spending another 2 weeks to get a decent version 1.0, I returned to my main job.
By that time, according to my estimates, the application had about 30,000 users. I spent a good 3 weeks working on the project, and was absolutely pleased with the result.
But I didn’t get any money by that time. Money was simply not needed to start the project, and their absence did not interfere with the achievement of goals.
Today version 1.1.6 already has more than 100,000 users, although I haven’t accessed it for a long time because of cases at my main job. I'm waiting for a new vacation in order to return to further development.
Why haven’t I become yet another app millionaire? I am sure that many of you reading this article use many applications from different stores and see the potential for earning in what I told you.
Minecraft server plugins do not bring money, at least as far as I know. My project is known as Courier , a Minecraft Bukkit-made item-based in-game mail system for player-to-player. I estimate the number of users based on the number of downloads, since these downloads are made by server admins, and there can be from one to a thousand users on the server (for my estimation, I think that there are fifteen on average, in the hope that this is at least close).
So why don't I still see him as a chance to become an app-millionaire? If you still have doubts, then this is exactly what I wanted to discuss on the forum. Tell me, where did we get that the application, regardless of the time and effort spent on it, should be monetized?
Ultimately, many people create much more complex software than mine in a few days or weeks, just like me - with completely different motivations. I talk about this a lot in my series of presentations, “The Economics of Gold versus the Economics of Gifts”. I also advise reading The Generous Man by Tor Nørretranders. For me, it was a discovery of a frequent misunderstanding of the concept of free of charge regarding open source development. Not limited to open source by itself, it turns out that people rarely do something for free, but nonetheless produce something that can compete in the market along with what was done in anticipation of a monetary result.
I think this is what makes the difference between software for mobile and non-mobile platforms.
A proper understanding of motivation plays a huge role in building business models, both for those who develop software and for those who create platforms and search for content. Earnings are only one of the motivations for creating successful products, and far from the only criterion for their evaluation. Thus, the answer to the question posed in the heading consists of several dimensions. What I do not know yet, but what I would like to discuss is how to better determine their significance.
And of course, the above is my personal opinion, not the opinion of Sony Mobile.