But just like actual cups of takeout coffee, the costs add up. Let’s split the difference here and call it $4.50 a month. If you have 10 such apps, that’s $45/month, or $540 a year. If you have 20 apps, it’s over a thousand bucks a year. Use them for five years, and that’s over $5,000. That’s a lot of money for iPhone apps.
The conversation on Twitter feels like it’s gaining heat and intensity, which automatically feels like you’re not allowed to comment on one side of the story. Some jerks will argue that app developers are greedy — we can write those opinions off in an instant. Conversely, anyone who says all apps need to be paid or subscription-based also have no grounding in fact or reality, either.
The fact is that there is a finite appetite to pay for apps (it’s called a “market”). Each person will have a threshold for what they’re willing to pay for apps and services in a given year. Each app and service is vying for a larger piece of that pie. And subscriptions eat into that threshold much, much quicker than one-off $4.99 purchase prices.
Said another way, we’re testing the boundaries of app price elasticity here.
For some reason though, Apple’s app market is different. Like the overarching parent company, there’s a huge amount of passion in this arena. I’ll find a free app that looks like it’s well made and I immediately feel an obligation to throw the developer a few bucks. To a degree, the purchase decision becomes charity.
This isn’t right, nor is it wrong. How a person spends their money and the reasons for why they spend their money are entirely personal. But I don’t think peer pressure — or in this case, community pressure — should play a role.
Sometimes, you simply can’t afford an app subscription. Sometimes, the app doesn’t provide enough value for the money it’s asking for. Sometimes, throwing money at the developer doesn’t make sense.
That’s business. That’s life. That’s saving.
If you feel like being charitable, great! — sign up for a few apps and support the developers you love. If you find great value from the app and want to pay for it, great!
But you don’t have to feel guilty by not subscribing or having to cancel a subscription to cut costs. Sometimes, you need to look out for number one.