My App pricing issue

I developed a ukulele app nine years ago that I gave away for free, with a donate button. I made about $300 a year from donations, with an average of $10 per donation. The app was developed using Revolution Studio, which is now obsolete, and I chose Xojo over LiveCode for the recode. My app is a simple floating palette used to manage a set of custom chord fonts for creating ukulele song sheets. I have expanded the app series to cover six different stringed instrument tunings. I was thinking of pricing my app at $10 based on previous donations. My Beta testers have warned me that $10 is too much, anything over $5 will be a problem. I have responded that this is not a mobile app, and the only other product I am aware of that competes with my app is a Web-based app that uses a subscription model at $5/mo. Here is my Web promo page prior to launch. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or insight on my pricing issue.

Pricing is a complex topic.

It sounds like your competitor charges $60/year and your voluntary customers tell you the maximum they would be willing to pay is $5.

Well first problem is your voluntary customers are not really your actual customers. They are your fans and they appreciate you precisely because you are not $60. You don’t know how many of your customers would have paid had you asked them too. However I would not take the advice of those who have because their incentives are not really aligned with yours.

I know next to nothing about your market so it would be challenging to give any useful advice. However I can say I would compare your app to your competitor and ascertain if he is 6x or 12x better than you. If not I would seriously re-consider my $5 or $10 price point.

Hello, I do not know your market but I tell you that I would not do so low price because I give much value to my work and that of others, today we pay for subscriptions from Netflix, Adobe, Spotify, Web Hosting, etc. … that are nothing more than products packaged in software, so I say, value your work because if you do not others will not !

Thank you Phillip and Paulo. I have changed my promo page to remove pricing. I expect to get email asking about the cost, and will use that opportunity to build a case for fair and reasonable pricing based on the time spent developing, the skill set involved in custom font development, and the cost for Web hosting, eCommerce services, and code signing certificates.

Why did you do that? Either you have software that you sell or give away.

There is only one question that you need to answer: is there a market for your software or not? Do people (Ukelele players in your case) need your software? Does it solve a problem or not?

Is there really a big difference between 5 and 10 bucks? Not so much.

Never feel that you have to defend your pricing; if you ask me $5 is far too cheap and good way to kill the application, due to lack of funding v.s. the cost of development and your time supporting it. You are after all selling a specialist tool, these are often more valuable not just because of the unique skills requires to build said tool, but also based upon the market.

The cost of the application also helps a user clarify the quality of the product, just like anything else. When you buy cheap, you don’t expect said product to last (although some do), nor do you expect it to be of high quality.

Two things I can think of that might help:

  1. For your beta testers and a limited time, offer a launch promotion for $5. Use that to gauge whether you feel that you’re earning what you feel is reasonable recuperation.
  2. If your competitor is $5 a month, explain that on your site with a product comparison. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize what a subscription actually means in software. That’s $5 a month for potentially ever! V.s. a yearly or two yearly fee of $10~$20.

Put it layman’s terms:
“Our product $10 with 1 year of free updates.” - “Their product $60 a year.”
“Our product $20 with 2 years of free updates.” - “Their product $120 for 2 years ($5 a month).”

Then you have to work on promotion of your product to increase your market share, and that’s the hard part about software development.

Oh and I would suggest the dropping of this line:

As it can crate confusion IMHO, normally “requires” suggests that you must already have, but then you say that they’re included.

If you expect people to send you an email, you just put another barrier to sale.
People are lazy.
If theres no price before they hit the buy button, they will be scared to click it, and they won’t be bothered to send an email either.
Give them an easy to understand priced link.

In terms of pricing: dont go too low. $600 per year isn’t a fortune, so its not a big risk if you don’t see any cash for a while.

My experiences:
A free app I put out, downloaded 30 times in 3 years

A different $4 app I did , 20 times last year. (may have then driven sales of bigger app)
A slightly more featured version in the App Store at $10, selling 5 per month
Almost identical app sold on my web site $20 , selling 10 per month
The full version at $70 on my site … I’m happy with the sales…

Oddly, the more expensive, the more I sell.

As long as the quality is there, try it at $20
Worst case, sales go down.
Ho hum… they would have to halve in number to make you less money, (and at £$600 you don’t need the money, its just nice to have)
You can always revise down later if you must.

As Sam says , your beta testers are enjoying things for free: they have a special relationship with paying for software.
Indeed, I bet most of them came to you with the old wheeze ‘do you ever need beta testers’?

I have some.
They aren’t beta testers.
Most are people who just want your software for free AND a say in the design. (why not put 5 wheels on the car, eh?)

Just as they want software for free, we seem to expect beta testers for free, but the truth is that real beta testing is a skill that should be rewarded. I reward those who actually submit usable bug reports.

The market has considerably changed in nine years. Then, apps were not as many, and people were more eager to donate. The idea to sell software for $5.00 is downright ridiculous IMHO. Might as well give it away for free. Consider rather $9.95. Or explore the subscription model.

Today, the most common model for software is free with time limit of crippled, and pay for software. Get yourself a Paypal account so you can have a buy button in your app.

Have a small web site where people can find your app.

Consider placing the complete app in the Mac App Store, as well as the Window Store, and the Amazon App Store. Nine years ago, they were either very new, of simply did not exist.

Good luck !

OK. More about prices. I checked the price of apps in the MAS with the search keyword “Ukulele”. Not terribly encouraging. Indeed, the most expensive is 4.99, and there are several at 99¢.

Same kind of result in the Windows Store.

Same kind of price range in

So after all, maybe $5.00 one shot is the sound barrier. But indeed, if the next competitor is on a subscription basis, that is definitely worth exploring.

In my modest experience, I have several titles that sell better than their lower priced competitors. For instance, Check Writer III+ is the most expensive of its category in the MAS, the next one being under $10.00. Yet, it sells well.

At one point, too low a price makes the product to be perceived as lower quality. You certainly don’t want that. As a matter of fact, I would try a price like $5.95 instead of $4.99, and write the best description I can, with many details. Most of these cheapies are extremely sloppy about documentation. That is not perceived either as very serious.

Michel Bujardet - Thank you for your comments and advice. I am rethinking the pricing issue. I don’t think my app will qualify for the MAS. It is a utility app for managing custom chord fonts that are included with the app download. This means the user must install the fonts. I am working on a new product that integrates my app with a build-in word processor, and hopefully I can embed my custom chord fonts. That will give me one app that I can submit to MAS.

Fonts can be temporarily installed. For Mac I use the function below (posted on the forum by Sam if I recall right), and for windows you get the equivalent in WFS:

[code]Function loadIndicFonts(f as FolderItem) As Boolean
//f is the full path of the font-location, ex:app.executableFile.parent.parent.child(“Resources”).Child(“myFont.ttf”)
#if TargetMacOS
if f <> nil then

  declare function CFURLCreateFromFSRef lib "Cocoa" ( allocator as Ptr, fsRef as Ptr ) as Ptr
  Dim CFURLRef as Ptr = CFUrlCreateFromFSRef( nil, f.MacFSRef )
  dim fontRegistered as Boolean
  if CFUrlRef <> nil then
    declare function CTFontManagerRegisterFontsForURL lib "Cocoa" ( fontURL as Ptr, scope as Uint32, error as Ptr ) as boolean
    Dim CFErrorRef as Ptr
    fontRegistered = CTFontManagerRegisterFontsForURL( CFURLRef, 1, CFErrorRef )
    declare sub CFRelease lib "Cocoa" ( ref as ptr )
    CFRelease CFUrlRef
  end if
  Return fontRegistered
end if

#Pragma Unused f
End Function[/code]

Sure looks like my code…

There is no harm in trying to submit it to the MAS as it is; if they accept it you can then create your version with document editing, at a different pricing tier :slight_smile:

Personally I think the version where the user can edit their music within your application is the way to go!

This is a niche product who’s competition is a $60 per year web based solution. You should at least start at $49, and make sure to include in your sales pitch that it works offline and you get a full year of updates and support for a year etc.

If after a couple of months revenue isn’t what you hoped for, then consider dropping your price a little, maybe to $39, and then later on maybe try $29. You can play with price all you want, going down, but if you start low you set a perception of quality you can never regain and people actively avoid installing cheap software on their Mac/PC for many reasons, well, I know I do, especially if it’s not via the Mac App Store.

An often used tactic is to have a special “launch price” that makes it obvious that this is a quality product that you can get at a discount for a limited time, seems to work well. You could do something like $39 rising to $49 in a couple of weeks.

Don’t sell your product and yourself short John, set a proper price!

If those are music fonts, that is an entirely different proposition. I have been selling fonts since 1987 and TrueType since 1993.

Ian is perfectly right. Don’t concern yourself with toys, and consider that not many products like yours are out there.

If the emphasis is fonts, you may want to activate the fonts with your app for the entire machine, and not just for the app (which does the code above).

For that, I have been using MonkeyBread’s ActivateFontMBS for my Fonts Manager and several other products.