As a small developer with no marketing budget, getting your apps out there is a problem. You send notices to all the big review sites, along with promo keys so they can try it for free, but it’s a bit like going for your first job: you have no experience so we can’t give you a job, so you can’t get experience. Unless you or your apps are already famous, it is very difficult get the publicity needed to make them famous.
I used to distribute Pic-a-POD for free from my own web site. It was just for fun, and over the years there were quite a lot of downloads, although it was impossible to tell how many of these were updates and how many were new users.
With the advent of the Mac App Store, I decided that this was a good way to get the app in front of a lot more people. But access to the App Store is not free. Developers pay $99 per year and although this doesn’t sound very much, it means that what could previously be done with no additional costs, now required an actual cash outlay.
So I decided to charge 99 cents for Pic-a-POD for Mac. This is the lowest price tier available, and so I figured it would reduce the barrier to entry and make the app worth an impulse buy. This has been moderately successful, and I guess it has covered my developer costs, but not much extra. Or it will have covered my costs once the app earns me the minimum amount that Apple requires before they actually send you any money.
What has been interesting is following the upgrade numbers. It appears that almost 100% of purchasers upgrade whenever there is a new version. So they have not tried the app and immediately deleted it, even if it is not something they use every day.
Pic-a-POD has been quoted in a blog post about the 99 cent apps: Why I Remain A Sucker For 99-cent Mac Apps. The author ends up saying that where such an app used to be freeware or shareware, 99 cents is the new equivalent and replaces the concept of a free trial.
I considered a “lite” version that only gave access to one or two sources. I considered a free version with in-app purchasing to unlock more sources. But in the end, I feel that 99 cents is not a lot of money to ask and if it can pay for my developer membership, then I will be OK with that. Of course more would be really good and encourage further development, so if anyone cares to write a review, give the app 5 stars or mention it in a blog or post, then I would be very grateful.