More on the App Store Changes

Michael Tsai:

Assuming that any app could use subscriptions without restrictions, what would that mean? Subscriptions are definitely controversial. Customers generally don’t like them, though they may end up being the least bad option. One issue is the loss of control. It feels better to look at what’s in a new version and decide whether it’s worth it, rather than keep paying just to keep using what you already have. However, the trend is clearly toward everyone running the latest version, rather than supporting old versions. Simply maintaining an app takes work, and it makes sense for payments to reflect that. The other main issue is the overall cost. Subscriptions can really add up, and people will need to think more carefully about budgeting and saving in order to maintain access to key apps if their circumstances change.

I agree with his point about customers not liking to pay for what they already have. Paul Haddad, of Tapbots, makes a great point:

I’d probably be fine with a subscription model, if they degraded nicely. Stop paying, app still works but no more upgrades. That seems fair.

Glenn Fleishman, in Macworld regarding the use of this new system for free trials:

Does this change allow apps to offer a free trial?

Sort of. Apple lets developers optionally offer a free trial for in-app purchase subscriptions, which range from 7 days for a one-month recurring subscription to one month for a one-year term. If an app requires a subscription to use at all, then a free trial of the subscription effectively translates to a free trial of the app. An app that has some features and sells the rest with subscription can also offer a free trial just of those added options.

However, most apps will remain free or sold for a fee with or without IAPs, and work under the old rules, which don’t allow trials and demo versions.

David Sparks posts a great argument against the ubiquity of subscription-based software models from the customer perspective:

I understand why developers want to move in this direction. However, in order for this to work there has to be participation from consumers. Frankly, I’m not so convinced that will happen.

I think, in general, it’s easier to pay $12 once then the thought of paying one dollar every month going forward. Now multiply that times the 20 or 30 apps that you really love and things just get crazy. I’ve already received several emails from readers and Mac Power Users listeners complaining about the idea of subscriptions for all of their favorite apps. Put simply, I’m not sure consumers will cooperate with this new model. I would like to be proven wrong but developers may find that subscribers are a lot harder to come by than they think.

The updates to the App Store have definitely touched a nerve. I still think the changes are overwhelmingly positive, and mean very good things for app developers. I’m excited to see things begin to evolve this fall and hopeful for where this takes us.