How Spend­ing Mon­ey on Apps Proved More Ben­e­fi­cial Than I Thought

George Tinari

The landscape of the iOS App Store has changed significantly over the past eight years of its existence. Google Play has changed too, but in terms of app pricing, not nearly as much. When the App Store first launched, apps were separated into two main categories: free and paid. A solid chunk of apps were free, but many were $0.99, $1.99 or even $4.99 and $9.99 for some games.

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Stop avoiding paid apps because you’re really missing out | Photo: ymgerman / Shutterstock

Over time, developers figured something out: for whatever reason, users don’t want to pay for apps upfront. That’s why when you take a look at many of the new apps coming in to the App Store as well as the most popular ones, the significant majority of them are free and usually with in-app purchases.

Good developers slave over their apps for hours, days and months. All they ask for in return if you really enjoy their creation is a few measly dollars.

Developers on Google’s platform actually caught onto this a bit earlier. Android users were less likely to pay for apps than iOS users. That’s why for a long time, Angry Birds was free for Android and US$0.99 for iOS.

Slowly but surely, that mentality trickled over to iOS users and now neither want to pay up. A quick glance at the Top Grossing section of the App Store shows that most people are spending their money through impulse purchases. They download a free game, get hooked and want more virtual goods, then turn to real money to get them.

I on the other hand have almost always been a fan of paying for apps and could never see why so many people refuse to. I’d argue that the more popular the freemium model has become, the more important and beneficial it is to continue supporting paid apps.

Apps are Products and Services

When you pay money for an app, you’re paying for something that should significantly enhance your smartphone.

It’s crucial to view any app as a product or service, or sometimes both. When you pay money for an app, you aren’t paying for some insignificant virtual add-on the equivalent of a browser extension. You’re paying for something that should significantly enhance your smartphone to make it even smarter. Maybe that’s an outstanding weather app, maybe it’s an awesome game, maybe it’s a brilliant financial tool.

I realized it’s ridiculously easy to check out in a retail store, see a pack of gum in line for $1 and throw it in your cart. All of us make those tiny little impulse purchases all the time. Yet when an app wants $0.99 in exchange for the genuine usefulness it has to offer, we second guess ourselves.

Now that I’ve seen this very peculiar habit about myself, I know that a dollar is a dollar no matter where it’s spent. A one-dollar app usually brings far more value to my life than some gum anyway.

Get Something of Quality

Dark Sky Iphone App Quality Weather 1 Dark Sky Iphone App Quality Weather 2

More often than not a free app just does not deliver the same quality as an app you spend a few dollars upfront on. I recognize this is totally subjective and by nature it doesn’t have to be this way, but it is.

Developers who prefer to charge upfront know that users who are willing to pay upfront are often more savvy and experienced. That means they demand higher quality, so developers try to deliver on that expectation.

I regret almost none of the app purchases I’ve made in recent memory. The $3.99 Dark Sky is worlds better than any free weather app I could find, the $9.99 Tweetbot is the most seasoned Twitter client around and the $2.99 Threes! is just an amazing game.

Support Developers Who Make Your Phone So Capable

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Photo: Shutterstock

On a more sentimental note, your smartphone wouldn’t have a fraction of the capabilities it has without the enormous third-party developer community that has accumulated for iOS and Android over the years. In fact, many of the features Apple and Google baked into their OSes (like voice assistants) got inspiration from successful third-party apps.

Good developers slave over their apps for hours, days and months. All they ask for in return if you really enjoy their creation is a few measly dollars.

Users who tend to pay for apps upfront demand higher quality, so developers try to deliver on that expectation.

Take it from me, the next time you see an intriguing app, don’t skip right by it because it costs money. Entertain the possibility of getting enormous bang for your buck and give it a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

ALSO READ: 15 Most Useful Android Apps You Must Install Today

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George Tinari has written about technology for over seven years: guides, how-tos, news, reviews and more. He's usually sitting in front of his laptop, eating, listening to music or singing along loudly to said music. You can also follow him on Twitter @gtinari if you need more complaints and sarcasm in your timeline.