App Store Subscriptions

Yesterday the news hit of Apple’s changes to App Store policies and features including allowing developers to leverage Subscriptions for their applications so that they can better make a living making great apps.

This, from John Gruber’s coverage at Daring Fireball:

Now, subscription-based pricing will be an option for anysort of app, including productivity apps and games. This is an entirely new business model for app developers — one that I think will make indie app development far more sustainable.

Some of you reading this may wonder why this is important and some of the coverage doesn’t really lay it out.

As it stands, for most apps in the store, you pay once and get upgrades for as long as the developer can afford to give them. Some applications, but not all, require constant maintenance. Perhaps they run a syncing service so that your information is available across all devices or platforms. Perhaps the services they are built on top of change a lot and so app updates are needed often to keep the app working. Or, perhaps they offer new content (like game levels, or editorials, or videos, etc.) and to support the creation of that content they need money.

All apps require updates a few times a year as iOS releases and new Apple devices are released.

The problem right now is… developers need money to continue coming in over time to build and update great apps. The “pay once, get updates for free forever” model, isn’t sustainable for apps that do not offer in-app purchases.

As a consumer of these apps (and you’d know this if you’ve read this blog for a long time) I want to pay for upgrades. When Tweetbot was released as a wholly different app to skirt around the limitations of App Store policy, I gladly ponied up. I use the app daily. I want it to continue working. So I will pay. There are other apps that I wish did the same thing.

I know there is a bit of confusion at the moment about exactly what apps are eligible for this or not. There is always confusion when a change like this is introduced. It’ll all shake it out. I’m very happy to see this change and look forward to supporting my favorite apps with my money. It means I’ll get to continue to use them.

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