Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing

Day One, the best diary app for iOS and Mac is transitioning to a subscription model and they are taking a beating for it. Gabe Weatherhead wrote a post about this and I agree with every word.

I spoke with a developer friend that makes legal-related apps. He explained the transition of his app to a subscription model as a last resort to keep the lights on but also “the worst two months of my life”. This new app economy has been particularly rough on quality productivity apps. Those apps take a lot of time and attention to do right while at the same time consumers are not used to paying subscriptions for them. Nevertheless, that is probably the best model available to them at this point.

My fear, as someone who really likes quality productivity apps is that all this will end up driving productivity apps out of business.

Being friends with (and representing) app developers for years, I can tell you this also has had a chilling effect on productivity app development. I know several app developers that had a great idea for a productivity app but didn’t pursue it because it’s “too hard to make money” in that space.

The traditional model for productivity apps was the upgrade price, where developers released a new version every year or so and everyone paid a reduced fee upgrade price. I know the App Store has made improvements over the last few years but, having zero inside knowledge, I can’t help but feel we will never see upgrade pricing in the App Store. In the meantime expect more quality apps to go to the subscription model and, if they are apps you love (or even like), I’d encourage you to support them through the transition.