Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why We Agonize Over Buying $1 Apps

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the little-things-add-up dept.

Software 523

theodp writes "When it comes to explaining decision making and behavioral economics, Dan Ariely is the man. In his latest blog post, Ariely tackles the irrationality of app buying, explaining why the thought of paying even $1 for an app turns into an agonizing decision for those perfectly willing to spend $4 on coffee, or $500 on devices that they arguably don't really need. Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests, we would be anchored to the idea that apps should cost something. 'Then paying more (maybe even $2) for an app would be a simpler step,' he concludes, 'maybe one that we could take as easily as paying $4 for a latte.'"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Posting (0, Offtopic)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519296)

Posting to undo accidental mod

Re:Posting (2, Funny)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519366)

Modding to undo accidental posting. Oh, wait...

Re:Posting (0)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519382)

Undoing accidental posted mod?

Re:Posting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519650)

Post modding an accidental undo...

SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (5, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519308)

As a long-time Linux user, one of the best points is that everything comes without strings attached. I would say "the idea that apps should cost something" is questionable at best, but leave it to Apple and their users to advocate it.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (4, Informative)

samkass (174571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519396)

As a long-time Linux user, one of the best points is that everything comes without strings attached. I would say "the idea that apps should cost something" is questionable at best, but leave it to Apple and their users to advocate it.

Not to rain on your troll, but I think the whole point of the article is that Apple and their users AREN'T advocating it.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (5, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519508)

Agreed. I don't think this has anything to do with the cost directly, but rather buyers remorse. There is nothing more irritating than buying something only to find that it sucks not to put too fine a point on it. This does not apply to a cup of coffee, or a coke because you know and expect them to be the same every time you buy them, and they generally are.

Software is a different animal, and no different than anything else you buy and retain. It is not a common consumable that you know what it will taste like, or feel like. The other issue I believe has to do with choice. People agonize (if that's the proper word or not, as it seems a bit strong to me) over multiple choices where a simple coffee is nearly always the same brand, the same flavor, ect. If people choose the 'wrong' app, and that could have been used to buy the 'right' one, people get irritated.

I think they over thought this one by a long shot.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519702)

If people choose the 'wrong' app, and that could have been used to buy the 'right' one, people get irritated.

I think they over thought this one by a long shot.

That's it in a nutshell. Nothing feels worse than being out $1, AND knowing that you were the dope that pulled the trigger on the wrong thing. Once this happens once or twice you start to get a real aversion toward app purchases in general. If there were a better remediation process than a 15 minute(!) window to claim a refund, or the ability to really stick it to the app dev by one-starring his app (out of 1,237,843 reviews) maybe people would feel more at ease about the purchase.

The way it is today, you feel like you are at a bazaar and you are being hocked a $10 Rollex; you think to yourself "if this thing breaks even 15 minutes from now I will never see this guy again." Low low prices, nonexistent "Brands", and a lousy return policy all add up to a lousy "marketplace". If Apple (or whoever) wants to turn the tide on the flood of shit apps, they need to find devs who are better at branding, and give them ways to promote themselves. But then again, they are making billions off of people who have no problem plonking down $1 here and there without thinking twice, so why should they even care?

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519412)

Do you get paid to work or are you one of those lucky "trust fund" folks?

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519608)

How much work does Apple do for that 0.5 * $PRICE or whatever it is? Just the fact that Apple takes half of the money the developer (maybe) deserves is reason alone for me not to buy an app from their store.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519734)

What does any retailer do? They provide a place to sell your stuff. They provide at least a minimum of vetting that the things people buy there aren't complete garbage, thus encouraging users to buy things. They handle the financial transactions. Not to mention that they provide the extremely popular platform on which your app depends.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519748)

Before you spill ill-conceived hater vitriol, inform yourself to prevent to make you look stupid.

It's 30%. The developer gets 70% and most devs are quite happy with that. In fact there are devs/companies who moved completely to the App Store. Pixelmator is a shiny example. Previously available as boxed software and download managed by Pixelmator themselves, the graphic editor is now available only through the Mac App Store. It costs now 50% less and Pixelmator makes more money than they ever did. Why? Because it's a massive audience, it's easy and relatively secure, it's fast and you don't have the hassle with billing and handling. The credit card fees are paid by Apple, hosting is done by Apple, billing and accounting is done by Apple, etc. 30% angel share is quite fair, and in fact it is cheap.

Your reasoning is just rubbish.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (3, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519434)

I assume that you work for free, since you expect others to do the same.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519646)

It's called "volunteering." Not everyone does it. It doesn't always generate the best results. It is, however, generally appreciated.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519688)

Which is fine, but its a big leap to go from "free apps are nifty and appreciated" to "all apps should be free".

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519690)

It's a real shame that Apple chose to chase that spirit away from their phone platform. It could solve some of this problem. Instead of paying some amount for a crappy version of something you could just get for free, you could just get the free thing. You would also be able to do so without worrying about ads or other nonsense.

App stores with adware aren't really any better than the "wild wild west" situation we had before. People just kid themselves that adware is not a problem.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519738)

I think that's part of the issues. Most people don't really see making apps as "work" or even as "real" software. Besides, some of these services are offered for free on computers. Why should I drop even $0.15 on an anti-virus app when Avast doesn't charge me a penny for using it on my desktop? Once you delve into the dark-side of the "free" - an advertising firm can get far more valuable information about me and my behaviors from my phone than my computer.

So yeah, some of these guys are tracking everywhere I go, who I call, what I do online and in social media... For that kind of access, you damned well better believe I'm not going to pay to be spied on.

By they way, I've spent $10 on apps I've deemed worthy so I'm not some communist - I just think the iced skim mocha needs to be worth the extra $3 for me to be willing to spend it. :P

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

aaronfaby (741318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519460)

I don't know what you are implying given the plethora of free apps available on the app store. A developer should be able to get compensation for their work if they so choose.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519496)

Yet the article complains that people are not giving them compensation, and instead prefer things to be free; so Apple should actually prevent things from being free. Am I the only one seeing a problem here?

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

aaronfaby (741318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519572)

I think you are creating a problem that does not exist. People will always prefer free to having to pay. But the developer gets to choose whether their app is free or costs money, not Apple.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519660)

TFS says "Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests,". This means the article is implying Apple should (have) force(d) Apps on their store to cost money and prevent them from being free, or exactly what bky1701 said. In other words, the developer wouldn't have been free to choose, had Ariely had his way.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519676)

But the developer gets to choose whether their app is free or costs money, not Apple.

In a free commodity market situation, the developer doesn't get to select the sale price, the buyer has plenty of input, because if the price is too high, no sale. Go ahead, price your house at $10M and see what the sales price turns out to be. It'll be 0 because there will be no sale.

The app store is not a free market so its pointless to compare it to commodity free markets like coffee shops where there is intense competition for standardized products.

If the coffee shops were like the itunes app store, you'd pay $1 and most times you'd get a typical coffee but sometimes you'd get only half filled cup, and sometimes it would have a dead mouse floating in it, and sometimes it would turn out to be orange soda instead, but you'd have no real recourse and all you can do is hope it turns out better tomorrow, next time you shop at the world's ONE coffee shop.

Note that the itunes MUSIC store is a commodity experience unlike the app store, you'll get exactly what you think you're buying 99.9999% of the time plus or minus human error. Ditto the itunes books and movies. Only the apps are a complete crapshoot.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519492)

You are one of those people that will pay $4 for a coffee but nothing for software.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519530)

Actually, I don't drink coffee. I also don't see why I should pay if there is a free alternative, and certainly not why free alternatives should be done away with to encourage me to pay people what they probably don't deserve (as evident by the fact they aren't getting it now).

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519610)

Ok, subsitute the coffee with soda/tea/water/food, what ever you drink or eat. You in someway pay for any or all of those other types of beverages. So unless you don't spend any money and get all your food for free, you are one of those people.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519718)

There are plenty of ways of avoiding the cost of Starbucks in a free market. You don't even have to try that hard or even skimp on quality or convenience.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519752)

Creation of food inherently has a significant cost given current technology. If food could be copied as cheaply and efficiently as software, anybody that insists that food should be paid for is an idiot holding us back from having a Star Trek economy.

The thing that's actually irrational is assuming there should be a fixed cost for something that, practically speaking, costs nothing to reproduce.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519744)

Do you work for free? If not, you're a hypocrite.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519662)

Coffee is scarce. Only a certain amount of it exists. Software can be copied for no cost at without depriving anyone of it.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519500)

From TFS:

one that we could take as easily as paying $4 for a latte

Sorry, I don't pay that kind of money for a mediocre milky coffee. I've had many varieties of Starbucks fluids (on the company nickel) and while it's less bad than McDonalds, it's nowhere close to the European standards I'm accustomed to.

As to "apps", well, value is in the eye of the consumer. And value to the customer is the primary determinant of a sustainable price (along with the competitive element). Most apps are middling in quality, mediocrity multiplied by millions. The few which are polished are usually free, because they give access to a service paid for elsewhere, such as The Economist online.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519506)

Actually if you read the FSF website you will see that "Free as in speech" is not the same as "Free as in beer". The FSF has no problem with an author charging for the software. You are just supposed to get the code with it and you are allowed to modify it and or redistribute it.
That is one of the problems with the GNU model. It works great if a bug company wants to pay for say a custom CMS or Accounting system. What it doesn't allow is for a way to distribute the cost of development over many users in an easy way.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519624)

I would say "the idea that apps should cost something" is questionable at best,

Some of us choose software development to pay the bills. free doesn't pay the bills. Maybe if the power company did its work for free, along with all the others that invade my mailbox monthly, your idea would work. But not here. Not on this earth.

You may be used to getting free stuff, and you will have that from time to time in many places, but usually the good stuff isn't free. I can go to the local corner cone and get a little sampler cone for free, but if I want the banana split, that's not free, nor should I have any expectation that it's free.

"Beggars can't be choosers". And that's why a lot of the free stuff you can find for linux is low quality, poorly or just plain not supported, or not well optimized to fit your needs. (and I say this as a developer that gives away most of his work already)

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (4, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519648)

You're mixing economics with idealism. Everyone likes the idea of free software, and most people rely on it even if they don't realize that's the case. But due to the way people's brains are typically wired, having a baseline of >0 is advantageous for the seller. For example, if there were two apps, one free and one $2.00, the free one will have massively more downloads even if the paid one is significantly better. But change the pricing to $0.99 and $2.99 and "better" will tend to win out (well, the ratio will be a lot more in line with what you'd expect given the quality of what's being purchased, even if it's not actually making more sales) over "free", despite the same $2.00 spread between the products.

As it turns out, people that don't want to pay for stuff tend to be lousy customers. So I don't feel bad if I don't gain a customer who thinks that my product is overpriced. If you think I'm not adding enough value for what I charge - that's fine, you're welcome to not use what I'm making (free market, etc). Other people are happy to pay, and they also tend to focus on the reasons my stuff is improving their lives rather than searching for flaws that would justify me offering a discount. I'm happy, my customers are happy, and my non-customers are no more or less whiny than they would be without me.

As you might have guessed, I don't believe that all software should be free just because. I feel it's perfectly reasonable to ask for compensation if you're providing value, even if that value is in the form of carefully-arranged ones and zeroes. I would prefer that more software is Free (as in speech) if only to encourage interoperability, but that's a completely separate and mostly unrelated discussion. Anything that I create for free (which may or may not also be Free; generally it is) is strictly unsupported - it needs to fulfill my needs alone, and if you don't have to duplicate my efforts, then have at it! But as a general rule, I don't take feature requests on anything for which I'm not charging. I just don't have the time or energy.

Even FSF is OK with software costing something (1, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519664)

As a long-time Linux user, one of the best points is that everything comes without strings attached. I would say "the idea that apps should cost something" is questionable at best, but leave it to Apple and their users to advocate it.

Why just Apple? Even the FSF is OK with software costing something. The GPL allows for charging for the binary. The GPL even allows for charging a nominal fee for delivering the source code to the user.

Imagine someone releasing a GPL'd program for Mac OS X and then only distributing the source as a $1 Mac Store app download. That might be GPL compliant. This might spur RMS to get to work on GPL v4. :-)

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519686)

Yea, Software Developers shouldn't ever make money by developing their code.
The hours of coding, and making sure is a good clean app that runs well. Should all go out for free.
The Years of studying computer science degree, should just be for the joy of it.
And for Food and Housing we IT Professionals should just live with our parents for the rest of our lives.

These small apps that take a good amount of work, are really easy to use. So you are not going to make money doing consulting, Or would you rather have an Open Source Free app that will find a way to trick the person into giving them your money, like going threw a cloud service or something.

If you want to Develop a Free app you should be allowed to do that. However Vilifying why do you need to vilify people who want to make a living or at least some extra spending money in these tight times, in one of those few markets that are growing.

Using GNU and Linux there are string attached. You need will get the "You are a bad person" Alert if you need to install a closed source driver to get your PC to work. Or breaking the law in order to get something that can play a DVD.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519696)

Based on the posting score, it seems that the majority of mods here do not develop compiled software for a living.

What I do deserves to be highly compensated, as it reflects decades of intense devotion to art, craft and skills development.

What you do out to be given away for free! In fact you should pay us to use your crappy products. You should find some advertisers or something!

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (1)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519704)

Linux user [...] everything comes without strings attached

Therein lies the rub.

Re:SHOULD "Apps" Cost Something? (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519706)

In my country we have a minimum wage. You can expect to earn it if you're flipping burgers or stacking shelves. Your suggestion is that developers should earn less than that. Specifically nothing. Why do you undervalue the work of developers?

(The standard Linux user answer to that is... do like Red Hat... charge for support. That argument doesn't work. That's a suggestion that support people should be paid, not that developers should be. Red Hat did not develop most of the software they get paid to support.)

What does apple have to do with this? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519312)

Free software has been around a lot longer than that. Even OSX and iOS are based on it.

eh (4, Insightful)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519316)

I agonise over paying for apps, thus locking me in to a platform even more with each successive purchase.

Re:eh (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519742)

True. But $1 doesn't equate to much in terms of vendor lock.

Your total aggregate vendorlock for the entire phone might end up being less than a single decent desktop IP.

The app store has over 500000 apps (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519326)

Why would you pay?

Re:The app store has over 500000 apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519522)

We all know that a cup of coffee has a real per-item material and production cost which the provider must pay, whereas data has only a single upfront cost and is distributed for free from then on. That changes our perception of the value of the offering.

Re:The app store has over 500000 apps (1)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519618)

Because the free option does not meet my needs, and the paid option does.

I can cite one specific case off the top of my head. I looked at all the free VNC and RDP apps I could find in the Android marketplace. Not one met my needs - all were clunky to use, etc. I read up on the paid options and Jump Desktop ($0.99) sounded like it met my requirements - both RDP and VNC; and easy to use (though I never remember how to click-and-drag ... give it time). I paid for it and am very happy I did so.

Would you pay a $1 for shit? (4, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519338)

I think what it really comes down too is that people have a feeling that software being sold at $1 might as well be free. Deep down they know their own time is worth more than that, so why would they even give a dollar for what should be free?

OTOH, software that has good features, seemingly good support, and solves a problem they have being sold at $20 actually seems like a more reasonable proposition.

The only exception being tiny games. Although I think even Angry Birds was more than $1. I wouldn't know, I purchased it for the PC. That game is damn addictive.

Re:Would you pay a $1 for shit? (2)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519456)

If the app offered the same satisfaction as the latte the decision wouldn't be agonizing.

Re:Would you pay a $1 for shit? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519728)

How do you know before paying?

It's about perception, and that is what I think the author is trying to say. If you go into a restaurant and see bacon wrapped filet mignon with fresh vegetables for $1 would you not be suspicious about the quality?

The product has to be priced right. Open Source software is becoming more acceptable because people are not associating free with low quality. They understand that it is a different philosophy and that Open Source can have a lot of quality. Either that, or ad supported or light versions. The perception of quality is not nearly the same as the $1.

It's a funny thing, but even I feel suspicious about something priced like that and I know they are trying to go for volume in most cases.


Re:Would you pay a $1 for shit? (1)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519604)

Those plumbing taxes are a PITA.

No recourse for bad apps (5, Insightful)

superpete (867509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519342)

Perhaps it's because there is no recourse for me as a consumer if the app just doesn't work. At least with that $4 coffee I can send it back if it's bad, can't do that with an app.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519394)

Perhaps it's because there is no recourse for me as a consumer if the app just doesn't work. At least with that $4 coffee I can send it back if it's bad, can't do that with an app.

On an iphone. In the android market you simply request a refund. Never had to try it, but supposedly it is possible.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (4, Informative)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519532)

In the Android Market you get 15 minutes to requst a refund.
In the iOS App Store, you can request a refund by reporting a problem, and writtng to Apple that you want a refund and the reasons for the refund. It's not as quick and automated, nor obvious, as the Android Market, but they give you up to 90 days to do this (or maybe 30 days... not 100% sure now.).

Re:No recourse for bad apps (2, Informative)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519548)

The refund official Android market does include a refund, but you only have a 15 minute window in which to request the refund. I've used it and it works.

For simple programs and games, that's enough to determine whether you want to keep it or not. For more complex programs, it can be a bit of a race trying to figure out whether the program suits your purposes or not.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (5, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519426)

But lots of people agonized over their *first* latte. When they tasted it, and it was good, they were over the price very quickly.

$1 apps are a risk. If it's no good, you've spent a buck for nothing, not even a lousy cup of coffee. If it's hohum, you'll probably use it, but the equation is $1certainty. In fact, a $1 app is something you either expect to suck, or will be surprised at how good it is. And since most apps suck (they do, get over it), you're rolling the dice. And you don't have winning odds.

Now if most apps were $1, then we could get into the habit of springing for an app at a dollar, and usually getting something useful.

But most apps suck. Even free is a loss, you've lost your time finding it, 'buying' it, and trying it out. 'Free' isn't even free.

There's an economic theory that shows kids will take a sure thing rather than the apparently better deal that is not so obvious. This persists into adulthood.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519442)

You can get a refund on the Android App Market.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519488)

If you are on an iPhone, just go to the app page, report a problem, and request a refund. Just make sure to explain why (like app does not run on my phone/just crashes/etc.)

Apple will get you your money back.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (1)

superpete (867509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519596)

I haven't had any luck with this. Granted I never followed up with Apple, but have tried two methods I had found with no result.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519720)

I get refunds all of the time. This year I've have at least 10. I download an app and check it out right away. If it sucks I just to to iTunes and report that I bought it by mistake. One time they rejected it but I followed up saying I did due diligence but the app didn't perform as advertised. They gave me the refund right there.

I suggested all app purchases should have a 5 minute trial period. In 5 minutes you pretty much know if you have been conned.

Re:No recourse for bad apps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519582)

Perhaps it's because there is no recourse for me as a consumer if the app just doesn't work. At least with that $4 coffee I can send it back if it's bad, can't do that with an app.

For me, it's because there's no recourse if the app does more than it's supposed to. All of a sudden my inbox is stuffed with "offers". Some third party who's only contribution was to append a URL of the form "&quote=ABC,XYZ" to a stock quotes page knows something about my portfolio. Some other fourth party has my culinary preferences to datamine on behalf of my insurance company. A fifth party has my musical, literary, and pr0^H^H^Hentertainment preferences to datamine.

In the PC ecosystem, Amaroc plays music. VLC plays videos. Any generic PDF reader views PDFs. A press of F5 in an open-sourced browser loads a page of stock quotes. None of those apps cost me a dime, and all of them (with the exception of the live stock quotes) default to working just fine with lcoally-hosted content. They don't phone home, because some of them can't phone home, and all of them can be configured not to phone home.

With the $4 coffee, I can pay in cash and walk away without worrying about some barista following me around asking me if I'm in the mood for a latte.

Free works w/o Credit card (2)

frith01 (1118539) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519344)

I would never attach my Credit card to an app store, due to having a 6 yr old in my house who loves to play with my phone.

Having a threshold at $1 means other developers also wont try to undercut at $0.9 , and drag the whole pile of apps down to $0.05 eventually.

Why $4 for a latte? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519348)

Maybe the better question is why we unthinkingly spend $4 for a latte when brewing at home (via an automated coffee maker) or even learning to live without caffeine dependency is much cheaper.

Re:Why $4 for a latte? (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519480)

Great point.

But to answer your rhetorical question, the first time we spent $4 for a latte probably wasn't unthinking. We stop thinking after it becomes a habit. And most of us probably don't have a habit of plunking down $1 every morning for an app.

We all pay for coffee (1)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519350)

Everyone is used to get software for free, either because it's really free or because they download a pirate version.
Most of us don't steal coffee, gas, bread or anything else of physical existence, for that matter.

Had Apple put a minimum price on apps and most people would use as little of those as possible. It's not like we are all buying our music through iTunes, is it?

Re:We all pay for coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519384)

but coffee is finite, while copies of angry birds aren't...

Re:We all pay for coffee (0)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519570)

coffee is effectively infinite, it grows out of the ground. people have to put in work to make it into something you can conveniently consume, but why bother compensating them for that work? it's exactly the same as the work people put into apps... even less, in fact, it's just bullshit rote work trained monkeys or sufficiently advanced robots can do. the coffee workers only want to be paid because they're greedy.

Why? (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519354)

why the thought of paying even $1 for an app turns into an agonizing decision for those perfectly willing to spend $4 on coffee,

The answer is simple, isn't it? The seller is not making just one mug of coffee and keep selling clones of it at 4$ a mug. Would you really pay 4$ for a copy of a mug of coffee? Though we all know apps are created by labor and capital investment, though we know that app is as much a product as a mug of coffee is a product, though many of us actually make a living writing code, we still balk because we also know the cost of replication is zero. We should not think that way, but we do.

Re:Why? (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519424)

Well.. the cost of replication is not zero.. but it's a number very close to zero... your point is still valid though. :]

Believe it or not... (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519512)

...there is significant cost in producing that app before the duplication takes place, and many app developers like to eat.

Re:Why? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519590)

Close, but the real problem is that Starbucks goes to extreme lengths to make sure each $4 coffee is as good as every other $4 coffee. I donno because I don't drink coffee or do the coffee shop scene from Friends. I assume there is no need to worry about your coffee? Even if conditions are unsanitary you'd think boiling water cures all evils, its not like eating at taco bell where I get food poisoning about 1/4 of the time. And the markup in price is so incredible compared to the material cost (what, like 1 cent of water, and 5 cents of ground coffee, equals $4 cup at cash register?)

However, as a guy who bought a lot of $1 apps, there is no standard, some are absolute stinkers that shouldn't even be free, and some I'd gladly pay $10 as a reward to the author for a job well done. There probably is no way to standardize apps to a universal $1 level of suckiness for all $1 apps.

The standard /. car analogy is I can buy a brand new, made in Japan, glow in the dark, toyota and simply sign and take possession and expect it'll be in perfect condition, and in the infinitely unlikely event it is not, I perhaps unrealistically think the stealership will make it right. Thats pretty much how its always turned out for me and all my friends, and probably the one guy in the whole USA who ever got screwed by T is going to have to post a response to this... On the other hand, if I spend 1/5 that amount on a used vehicle, I gotta crawl underneath it, and F around looking for leaks, and test all the moving and non-moving parts, and run a compression test on the cylinders (pretty easy and painless, unless you do something stupid like strip the threads or forget to disconnect the ignition). So I do NOT "agonize" over a $25K new Prius, but I do "agonize" over a $4K extremely heavily used neon, despite it being nearly a fifth the cost.

I would pay $1 to have the first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519358)

...but since this isn't the first post, I'm afraid I might get charged a late fee.

"Free" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519362)

There are no free apps. There are only apps which take from their users things that their users don't notice.

he doesnt describe me. (3, Interesting)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519378)

In the year in which i own the galaxy tab i spend more for buying software than in the ten years before. If an app does what i want and it costs $1 then i buy it. the price has an eception ally low priority in my buying decisions.

For andorid these are

a) Does the app require unreasonable rights without explaining?

b) has the app a clearly decribed concept what is does and what it doesnt?

c) does the app behave reasonably in the refundable period?

d) Are the many users with really strange problems.

If all poitns above are right, and the app is not trivial, i will pay $10 without thinking

Overcomplicating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519386)

I think he's really overanalyzing here. I wouldn't say I "agonize" over a $1 app, but I do think a minute before I buy one for two reasons:
1. It's annoying when my apps list gets overcluttered with crap I don't use, but I also don't like uninstalling paid for apps.
2. $1 might not be that that much, but if I'm not paying attention it's easy to buy 15 or 20 of them in a month, which adds up. By the same token, I won't think twice about a $3 cup of coffee, but when I realized I was buying a $3 cup of coffee every single day on my way to work, I started brewing a pot before I left rather than spend $60 a month on coffee.

People don't understand technology (5, Interesting)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519400)

I think it's much simpler than that. People don't understand what software does and really see no difference between the device and the programs that run on it. From that point of view, when you buy an app you are paying for something that's "already there", since it was a device that ran apps before and it's a device that runs apps now. The only change is the new app, which is not a tangible thing, but a behaviour. Paying for behaviour seems kinda like paying someone to teach your dog a new trick, and that's just plain silly.

Re:People don't understand technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519534)

It's not that silly if you are paying someone to teach your dog how to fetch beer *from the supermarket* and to play ukulele in the background while you drink it.

Re:People don't understand technology (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519756)

Perhaps, but how do you then explain lining up in the rain to replace a perfectly good device with a new device that only really (when you get right down to it) exhibits a new behavior?

Considering that... (2)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519416)

...I've worked with OSS for a decade, even $0.15 sounds ridiculous for a piece of software.

Re:Considering that... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519724)

I actually develop and write software. I would pay $1000/yr to continue using software like Debian.

Frankly, you can download and use Debian for free because of charity of others. Because others said "we care more about feedback than leeches".

When you pay money for software, you give someone reason to continue to work on it. Or to work on new software. If you do not pay (like most of OSS), then you better be able to maintain your own mission critical software as there is absolutely no motivation for the maintainer or developer to continue to support you.

Things like Linux are not free-beer. Lots of people/companies pay lots of money to continue development of Linux. Without those sponsors, Linux would be where HURD is today.

Hah! (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519436)

Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests, we would be anchored to the idea that apps should cost something.

Yeah...because the concept of an "app" wasn't invented until the iPod/iPhone came around...

If you ever get the chance (1)

celticryan (887773) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519448)

You should see Dan Ariely speak. I didn't realize I had seen him previously until I read his bio on the linked website. He is really a great speaker and has a great amount of insight into irrational thinking. He gave a really great talk on 'cheating' that I saw earlier this year.

That being said, I think he has a point in his quick little blurb. But I also think it wouldn't fit into Apple's business plan to have all the apps cost something. They are not in the business of selling you apps - they want you to buy the hardware that runs that apps.

Android (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519458)

As an Android user, one of the things that stop me just buying a $1 app is two-fold:
1. Does it work on my device? It may be marked as such, but that is far from reality. Some apps are unstable, some use only a tiny corner of my tablet's display while using the entire screen as touchable surface (scaling issues) and some don't work with a specific part of my hardware (mostly games and audio).
2. Does it work as advertised? Again; few apps seem to live up to their expectations. Having to spend $1 on ten apps before finding the one that actually does what I need it to do no longer makes it cheap.
I understand on the iPhone/iPad platform, problem 1 atleast is solved.

Android 10 Cents (1)

WhatsAProGingrass (726851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519472)

I bought my first App off the Android Market when they were promoting there 10 Cent deal during the holidays. I thougtht to myself, now that I have put in my cc number and i'm only clicks away from buying another one, I just might. Then the next 10 Cent app I went to buy it told me to enter all my info in again so I declined to buy it. The point is, I think the 15 cent app idea would have worked for their business model.

It's simple (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519476)

I buy the coffee because the odds of me enjoying it are nearly 100% and the only damage that could come about is staining if I spill it on myself.

With a $1 app there is a high chance it could be shit and therefore no better than throwing $1 out the window which, while a small sum, is still waste, it may steal my data, it may cause problems with my device and I do have to entrust my credit card with someone else. So there is a risk of further hassle and or time wasted. My time is worth a lot to me so the time wastage factor is much more important than the cost in money.

A low price doesn't mean people are more likely to buy a turd.

Haven't RTFA... (1)

fryguy451 (592591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519486)

But it seems to me that we really don't agonize over $1 apps. It's installing the free one that we're worried are in-app money sinks or simply crap for free. When it comes to the $1 crap apps, we resort to "you get what you pay for", but when it's free and it's crap we're more likely to be pissy about it.

Other app stores (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519540)

So shouldn't we see this with all of the other app stores? As is often pointed out on slashdot, iPhones only make up a increasingly small portion of smartphones. The availability of competing app stores should be able to show that the author is correct. While customers of Apple's app store may expect their apps to be free, surely this isn't the expectation for customers of the Google and Amazon app stores...

Users want a trial ... (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519552)

Users want a trial which is why I offer a free app, Perpenso Calc for iPhone [] RPN, 5 modes: Scientific Stats Business Hex Bill, which is upgradable to full (RPN, tape, etc) via in app purchase.

Users may also want customization so I offer the more specialized functionality (statistics, business, hex, etc) as in app purchases. So rather than a higher priced app with everything included I can keep the price down and let users only pay for the specific functionality they want.

Re:Users want a trial ... (1)

aaronfaby (741318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519716)

How dare you tackle problems yourself. Apple has the responsibility to to solve everyone's problems and provide a lucrative application point of sale and distribution environment for developers. And how dare they charge 30%!!! What greedy corporate bastards.

Well what do they do (5, Interesting)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519566)

I think the biggest issue, is there are very few apps that do anything that isn't expected of free software in the PC world. 95% of the games are more or less repackaged flash games that we have been playing for years, most of the productivity apps are weaker than google docs or libre/open-office which we have had for ages, and most of what's left is basic generic things that have been free for years. Bottom line there just aren't many apps that aren't exact duplicates of programs that have been free on the PC for years, has nothing to do with apples management it is just the trend of the entire software market. Right now in software people will pay for on any platform

Top of the line office software, IE only Microsoft Office

Top of the line AAA games, IE Skyrim

Other then that... corporate users need security software, and gullible home users will also buy it (reason I say gullible is primarily because there are few to no features or increased reliability of free vs paid antivirus's that I've seen). Had nothing to do with how the tablet market was set on launch day, the phones were based on the market of software, and in the end phones and tablets do not currently support much in the way of software that people aren't used to having for free.

It's becuase recourse is difficult. (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519576)

When you buy a $4 coffee, and it doesn't turn out the way you expect, there is a real, living, breathing, human being standing in front of you that can fix it.

When you buy a $500 tablet from Walmart and decide you don't like it, you can just go back to the store and return it, no questions asked.

When you spend $1 on an app, and it either isn't what you expect, isn't what is advertised, or doesn't work on your device, the process of getting your money back is a significantly higher hurdle.

On iTunes, you have to request a refund from your PC, and if the holy gods of Apple deem your claim valid, and that's a HUGE "if," then you might get a partial or whole refund, depending upon what they decide. You can't simply uninstall the app and say "I didn't like it and want a refund."

Buying a $1 app is like buying a car. It's agonizing because there is little or no customer satisfaction process once they have your money. It turns out that it doesn't matter what the price is.

Xbox live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519580)

Apple should have done what MS did with their online Xbox game store: every single arcade game has a demo available...

Credit Card Number (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519592)

I'm never giving it.

Also apps can do ongoing charges, like in that daily show expose on the fish tank.

Finally I like to donate not pay, I get the feeling that more of the money makes it to the developer.

there have been free apps forever (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519598)

one of the benefits of having been a computer user for so long is that through my history, i've known a number of excellent free or low-cost software (shareware in many cases). so why should apple force prices to be artificially high? if i'm a developer and i want to give away my work, that shouldn't be limited by a corpratist's drive to earn money; as apple has proven, free apps are a nice choice alongside paid apps.

The agony is over the cost/benefit analysis (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519622)

Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests, we would be anchored to the idea that apps should cost something.

Normally I really enjoy a good behavioral economics essay but this is more of a mashup of hyperbole and sarcasm. The anguish about buying $.99 apps IS that we don't have a good understanding of what a "fair" price is, like he suggests. But more to the point, the reason we don't think we can judge the fairness of the price is that there is SO. MUCH. SHIT. in the app store (this goes for every app store out there.) A free app might be super great and we feel like we really struck gold when we downloaded it and fired it up. A $4.99 app might have been totally disappointing to the point where we either go after a refund (if it is available) or simply anguish over the wasted money on an app that is so poorly written as to be preferably NOT installed on our mobile device of choice. The same effect that makes us feel like we struck gold with that free app find works against our desire to get a paid app, we feel like we are really rolling the dice, and to most of us gambling is only attractive when its flashy and involves glossy cards or red dice.

Reasons why I won't pay (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519630)

1. Their are free stuff out there.

2. Quality is so low.

3. They don't let me keep what I buy. I.E. When my phone gets upgraded, I lose the game.

If you want to get me to buy the games then I would offer:

A. No questions asked trade in for permanent store credit within one month of purchase.
B. A permanent account with the company that if you upgrade your phone, lets you copy over the existing games to the new one - or if they no longer work on the new one, gives you that permanent store credit.

Give me good service and I will buy. Give me crappy, sucky products and you get no money.

I cannot obtain coffee for free. (4, Interesting)

Mr EdgEy (983285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519678)

You know, I used to think that if media had a decent price, that I would actually purchase more games.
More and more lately I'm coming to realise that I wouldn't buy most things at any price.

Why would I spend £10 on a DVD, when I can save that £10 towards a new car or a mortgage deposit?
Why would I spend £10 on a book or £1 on a newspaper, when £90 (9 books) buys me an e-reader which will give me free books until the thing breaks?
Why would I spend £anything on games, when I can simply play older ones?

When I was a schoolchild, money existed to be frittered away on the next shiny.
Now I'm (only a few years) older, I can see that in order to live any semblance of a decent life, I'm going to have to save, and save HARD.

Why should I feel sorry for artists? Are they in a worse position than me? In the vast majority of cases I would doubt it.

With regards to expensive coffee - I don't buy it, but I do buy coffee when I'm out, occasionally. Why? Because it is more convenient than making coffee at home, and I can get it instantly as opposed to waiting. Buying 'apps' generally works in reverse.

Re:I cannot obtain coffee for free. (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519754)

And what about Steam?

because it's digital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519694)

the problem when things become digitized is that you can replicate it infinitely for the most part. (i'm not talking about forcing people to have some sort of a license key; i'm just talking about the ability to copy digital goods in general). so it's really straight forward economics where supply will always exceed demand. so quite honestly, anything priced above a few cents on the digital market is realistically overpriced. i remember back when allmymp3 was around and they'd price songs for around 10-15 cents. i thought that was the perfect price and was more than willing to make a few purchases. apps are probably in a very similar category since they'll generally fill a very niche market.

Design flaws in the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38519700)

I agonize buying them due to inherent design flaws in all systems. With linux I didn't pay for the bugs I have to iron out myself. I thought android would help, but then I tried to migrate from a gmail account to my google apps account (setup over a year after), still don't have access to use the software I purchased through the gmail account. Yes I know I can bind multiple accounts to my device, but I don't like having to choose everytime, or verify the right account is selected in the market prior to purchasing an app, just like DRM, it's doomed by design. Plus nothing is worse then paying for something the developer gave up on long before you even became aware of it, just look through android's market, I'm sure the iPhone isn't much better either. The good news, I didn't pay the apple tax and can have more fun with the devices I OWN (yes, I have root, if you don't you don't own it, you lease it and are subject to someone else's terms of use).

It's a values thing (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38519714)

I think it's a values kind of thing. I'm a long time open source user, will always consider the free solution (but aware of the ramifications) and incidentally, on the occasion I go through Starbucks drive-thru my order is "your largest regular coffee". My primary irritation is being stuck behind someone ordering a venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with three and a half virgin tears and grated Unicorn horn. That guy holds up the entire line. And he always wants them to check "in the back" for those trendy breakfast wraps they're always out of.

But I agree with the implied point: If Apple decided tomorrow to eliminate free apps, Apple users would just accept it. They're already used to paying boutique prices.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>