Pricing model

I was very interested to read Drew’s blog post on the pricing model and the thought process behind it. In fact it prompted me to invest in the premium features even though I’ve only just downloaded the base level app itself. I’d really like to see how this works over the next couple of years.

I’m not a fan of the subscription model as I have literally hundreds of apps strewn across several devices and it would be untenable if they all had that model. And I refuse point blank to enter into Adobe’s expensive clique. I have, however, been caught out by non-supported purchased apps - I paid a lot for Nik Software’s excellent photographic plug-ins, only to find them abandoned a year or two later and being required to buy them again from DxO who bought them up. (I suspect Google had a hand in this, wanting the iOS part of Nik’s assets, but that’s the kind of thing that does now happen.)

So when Ulysses went to subscription I gritted my teeth… But I went with it as their app is essential to me, and I need the developers to eat, stay alive, and maintain the app! Plus it’s a reasonable subscription (likewise Evernote which I also use the hell out of and would be lost without). The price is an important means for a developer to convey their intentions and attitude towards their clients.

The preferential paid upgrade model can work, but does tend to mean longer waits for features. Scrivener is a good example. The new version was ages in development - I mean years - but was finally offered as a stand alone purchase or a discounted upgrade, and I think it minimised moaners as everyone could see what a major overhaul it had received.

We were also aware of some of the problems the poor guy had encountered in app development and I think this is also a crucial factor in all of this as new market models emerge: developer/user transparency. It’s easy for users to forget that real people are code-wrangling not only to improve the features of an app but to ensure its functionality in a rapidly evolving environment. And developers can sometimes be unaware how frustrating particular unresolved issues can be: users will find other means - and other apps - to get things done.

Transparency engenders support and loyalty. It’s like knowing your greengrocer. We’re personally invested. (I’ve been beta testing some iOS apps of late and it’s been a rewarding process.)

So yeah, good luck with this model. It ticked the right boxes for me and I’m excited to see the direction you want to take the app. I wonder how it will in time cross over between Evernote, Things and Trello in terms of functionality, for example.

And I love the look of it. I use the hell out of note-taking/writing/agenda/task-list apps to structure my otherwise catastrophically unstructured life but they have to work, and they have to themselves be uncluttered and beautiful if life is to be the same way. Using technology should be a joy.


Glad you appreciate the attention to detail in the design, and the sales model.

We probably agonized over the sales model as much or more than any other part of the app, trying to come up with something that would work well for developer and customer alike. And then we spent considerably more time implementing it in code than any standard sales model would have required. It would have been much easier to just prop in a subscription, but — like you — we have a natural aversion to them as customers, and we didn’t want to have our customers have a bad feeling about purchasing our app.

So far we have been very happy with the response. People are willing to pay to support our efforts, even when they could use the app for free.