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Your iPhone App is Waaaaay Too Expensive!

The iPhone: Price Changes EverythingWhat?? $3.99 for an iPhone app? Are you crazy? The nerve of some people. Lunatics.

How can you expect me to pay $3.99 for this? Every single iPhone app I’ve ever downloaded is either free or costs 99 cents. Now, you expect me to pay $3.99, and all I’m able to judge it by is a couple of screenshots, a brief description and a few shill-sounding reviews.

I can’t believe you would charge so much money for a simple iPhone app that probably took you… I don’t know, maybe 4 months and a team of developers to produce, not to mention all the time it took to come up with the idea in the first place. $3.99… Sheesh… Maniacs.

Oh, hold on a sec … I’m just pulling in to the local Burger Hut….

“Welcome to Burger Hut, can I take your order, please?”

Yeah, how much is your biggy-wiggy super-sized artery-busting toxic waste burger combo that I’ll devour in about 4 minutes flat if I decide to breathe while I eat?

“$6.99 plus tax, sir.”

Okay, I’ll take two.

24 Responses

  1. There’s a marvelous comic from The Oatmeal talking about this:

    Sad but true.


  2. says:

    Obligatory comic:

    Maybe the situation is aggravated with mobile apps, but it’s normal: a $100 smartphone is cheap, a $100 cheeseburger is expensive. Most people make the assumption that since it’s a “small” app it shouldn’t cost much. This is a similar (much worse) case: [edit — link contains foul language; visit at your discretion — Louis]

    • Yeah, looks like I inadvertantly ripped him off. :)

      I had seen that comic but completely forgot about it! (It seems to be dated around summer of last year)

      • Dave says:

        Nah, I love the oatmeal but he was hardly the first to realize that up either.

        You bring up an interesting aspect of that phenomenon though. We think we’re separating the sunk cost of the device (the iphone) from the apps as if their recurring costs… which of course they’re not. But we can drop twice as much on something fleeting like a burger as if it’s nothing.

        I do wonder about pricing by platform though. Let’s say minecraft (in entirety) was ported to the iphone… should it now sell for $.99? Or $3? Or do you sell it for whatever you charge for the regular desktop version? Would it even sell?

  3. You butterflying butterfly. I’m not butterflying having this butterfly. Butterfly you.

    Only joking, I typed all those butterflies. No… Really, I did!

  4. Bart says:

    Sadly, the irony is that the developers (obviously not all developers) are responsible for this behavior and these expectations. Also, much depends on the demographic your app is targeting. The app I’m developing is aimed at photographers, many of which are shooting with expensive cameras and it is therefore less likely that people will complain about my app’s pricing (touch wood).

    With the launch of the Mac App Store, a lot of developers have realized that they don’t want history to repeat itself and I’m happy to see that there doesn’t seem to be a race to the bottom in the Mac App Store in terms of pricing. The Mac App Store looks promising, although it’s still in its infancy.

    Anyway, even though these responses are not fun to deal with, if you know you have worked your butt off for this application, then I wouldn’t feel too bad about it. Honestly, most of us should charge more, but the App Store climate does not allow this at this point.

    • Brant says:

      Part of the reason for the Mac App Store price difference is that much of what can be found there is pre-existing software that developers updated/upgraded and submitted. Thus, the assumption is that they can keep the pricing the same as well.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the developers are necessarily wrong in that assumption. I just think only time will tell which model ends up being better; both for Apple and for the developers. And I’m not sure it will be the same for each.

  5. Pete says:

    So you think the value of 4 months work should only be 99 cents? Should I contact you to design a website for me and limit you to only 4 months and pay you 99 cents? It is only a matter of time before your paying more for everything on iTunes / everywhere. Did you bitch when iTunes raised the music downloads from 99 cents to $1.29? Probably not because you probably download songs illegally. You should raise your rates for your freelance career and they you can afford $3.99 for angry birds or whatever the hell you want to download.

    • Pete, I think you’re misunderstanding the point of this post… I guess if I have to explain it, that kind of defeats the purpose but….

      I am saying that those apps are much more valuable than the price indicates. It’s sarcasm! :)

    • Scott says:

      Even though you are missing the point of the post, your reply is still inherently flawed. Four months work on an iPhone app doesn’t mean it should be sold for several thousand dollars.

      A musician might work for a year on an album, with all the studio recording and mixing etc, yet they still sell a record for $10? A Hollywood movie costs millions of dollars and your cinema ticket is only $15? Do you see my point yet?

  6. Ferdy says:

    In the app store, a lot of the apps that charge more than the .99$ average are doing exceptionally well. It could actually be a good strategy sometimes to differentiate by being more expensive, as long as remain affordable.

    • Bart says:

      True. Apple also realizes this and that is part of the reason (probably) that they added the “Top Grossing” list. Apps that don’t sell in large volumes due to their higher price tag are still getting exposure.

  7. Ben says:

    I don’t have a problem with the pricing, I have a problem with not wanting to buy something unless I can test it first, or everyone likes it. If more companies created some type of lite version. I would be so much more willing to buy and app for 3.99. But I do agree, 3.99 isn’t that much if the app is awesome.

    • Alejandra says:

      I do agree with you. I would even pay more for an awsome App, but it would be so much better to test it before, to measure if it really is the App that satisfies all of my needs. That would be a nice shift to the situation.
      I think it is not that different from buying a software for a PC or Mac, I mean if you need it, you love it and you will use it constantly it definetly is worth the money. Even if it´s more than $3.99

  8. Burma Villao says:

    I’m hardly surprised one bit that Steve Jobs and the giant of a corporation have already reached 10 billion app for the iPhone company and when the new year passes around the iPhone app buyer numbers will very well tip the 1 trillion place. Round-about estimates foresee that stock for AAPL will reach to around $550 per share by then, crazy!

  9. Nick says:

    free market is free.

  10. Alex says:

    :))) Wow. Well done sir.

  11. Janna says:

    I really don’t think you understand what goes on behind the production and development of an iPhone app. I mean, you would spend $4 like nothing on anything else, wouldn’t you?

    • Dan says:


      See this post.

      Louis Lazaris:
      Jan 26/2011 10:47am

      Pete, I think you’re misunderstanding the point of this post — I guess if I have to explain it, that kind of defeats the purpose but…

      I am saying that those apps are much more valuable than the price indicates. It’s sarcasm! :)

  12. alex says:

    Yeah. very true.. most ppl just dont get it how much effort and time the developers put in to a single iphone application..:(

  13. Vijay Dev says:

    I love your mockery! :)

  14. Dillon Curry says:

    We just created an infographic that is along the same lines as this :D You should share it out!

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