Monday, September 28, 2009

A Sense of Entitlement: Tweetie 2

For the most part, I stay out of discussions about App Store pricing. The so-called "race to the bottom" is, I think, somewhat blown out of proportions in many discussions held between iPhone developers, who have a very personal and one-sided view of the market. There's a lot of competition and prices are lower than traditional software markets, but there's also a large volume of buyers (2 billion applications sold so far and counting according to Apple), which means you can still make a living charging relatively low rates. If EA or Infinity Ward can make a profit selling a game for $49.99 that takes a team of literally hundreds of people two years to create, it seems like 1-5 person iPhone development shops should be able to make a profit at a much lower amount if the program is marketed diligently and intelligently and is truly useful or fun.

The early seemingly overnight success stories have, I think, created a skewed perception of how easy it is and should be to make money in the App Store. That being said, I think there is some merit to the argument that the low prices and large number of free applications that dominate the app store have created a sense of entitlement and have fostered an environment where people feel like they are owed free upgrades in perpetuity.

This can be evidenced by this blog posting that takes Loren Brichter to task because he's releasing the next version of Tweetie for the iPhone as a new app with no upgrade path. This blog post has such gems as
A slew of new features and functionality does not, to me, make it a different app.
Right, and when Adobe releases a new version of Photoshop or Microsoft releases a new version of Word with "a slew of new features and functionality", those are, of course, free, right?

Of course not.

It takes time and money and hard work to create that slew, and that has to be paid for somehow. When you get your oil changed in your car, you don't expect it to be free the next time bring your car in, because it's the same task they're performing, do you? Because you paid for a newspaper to be delivered today, doesn't mean you expect to get it free tomorrow and forever, does it? Of course not. No business can run without revenue. If Loren continued to spend all of his time developing Tweetie and never got more money from his existing customers for the new features, he would eventually go bankrupt and starve. Or more likely, he'd stop developing Tweetie before that happened, and we'd never get any cool new features again.

I don't know Loren personally, but I use Tweetie as my iPhone client (along with Twitteriffic which is also excellent) and I try to keep abreast of what's going on in the iPhone development world. Many of the people I follow on Twitter are beta testers for Tweetie 2, and I can tell you from the chatter I've seen that an awful lot of hard work has gone into the next version of Tweetie over quite a long period of time.

Loren has decided to ask a very reasonable fee for the new iPhone version of Tweetie, which should be showing up on the App Store in the next week or so. The $2.99 he's asking is less than most of us spend per day on coffee. If the author of the blog post above is making minimum wage, then he made more money from penning that whiny rant that it would cost to buy the new Tweetie. Get a fucking sense of perspective. The world owes you nothing. Loren owes you nothing. You paid for Tweetie 1, and you got Tweetie 1. Nowhere in that transaction did anyone promise to deliver to you new versions on a silver platter in perpetuity.

The old version will still be available to those who have purchased it. You won't be made to stop using it, or forced to upgrade, you just won't get the cool new features that Loren's been busting his ass to write over the last six months. You won't stop getting the benefit of what you've paid for.

Even though I occasionally offend people with my opinions, I rarely do it intentionally. But in this case, I think certain people, like the author of the blog linked above, along with all the people echoing similar sentiments on Twitter deserve a little verbal slapping around. This kind of immature sense of entitlement should not be coddled or put up with. People whining about the cost of the upgrade should be told in no uncertain terms that they are acting like fucking toddlers. Worse, because toddlers are, well… toddlers. These people are presumably adults and should know better.

If the new features aren't worth $2.99 to you, fine, don't buy it. There are plenty of other Twitter clients available, several of which are free. So shut your pie hole and go find another client rather than whining about how you are entitled to the end-product of Loren's hard work for the last half year simply because you paid about the price of a bottle of soda about a year ago.

If you really like Tweetie… if it's your favorite twitter client, then for fuck's sake, it's only three bucks to help ensure that we keep getting new features! If you don't, then why would you want the new version anyway. Just on principle?

Note: Comments are broken on this post. You can comment on this post instead if you desire.


brandon said...

Well put!

Hunter Hillegas said...

I agree 100%.

Can't believe that someone complained about it... Ok, well, I can believe it but it's a jackass position to take.

mister stache! said...

I agree entirely with your blog post. If Atebits was shipping bug fixes and charging for them, I might be more inclined to demand a free upgrade. As it is, programmer time is not free - whether you are expecting it to pay the bills, or you are using up time you would otherwise be spending on family and friends, programmer time has a very real cost. When it's spent on new features and functionality that were /not promised/ at the time of sale, that time absolutely deserves compensation.

Demanding Atebits give away Tweetie 2.0 at any price other than what Atebits thinks is a fair price for the work used in creating it is, as Jeff put it, petulance.

Josh McDonald said...

So I have Tweetie, it has features I was happy to pay for. Somebody else releases "PurpleTweeter", with better features for an additional amount of money, and that's OK, but if PurpleTweeter was named "Tweetie 2" and from the same guys, people are pissed?

Whinging fucking maggots.

Anonymous said...

I just posted this to the original blogger's comment section (the other page you had linked to). I thought I would repost here for obvious reasons.

I think this is ridiculous. First off I am a dev myself, so let that color your opinion of all that I say after this. You are disappointed because of the principal that this independant developer put out a piece of software which you enjoy, worked hard to upgrade it, and is releasing these upgrades at a full price of much less than a BK Whopper + a Coke. Yeah it's trite to make those comparisons at this point but I don't care. You are upset of the principal that he doesn't give a head nod to his early supporters? Come on. The head nod is that he even puts out an upgrade at all - probably got a bunch of email suggestions "here's what we want to see in your new version" and implemented what he could to make the customer base happy.

Grow up. No one owes you anything. I love how we live in this world where Microsoft can charge hundreds of dollars for a console which is a ticking time bomb (will eventually red ring) and might scratch a bunch of your DVDs in the meantime, and collectively we all shrug "well what are we gonna do? It's Microsoft, might as well do what they tell us to." But then some dude makes a popular app by his own volition, gets a little regard from it and (gulp) dares to put out a superior version of it without knocking off 50 cents from the price for the people who ponied up in the early days of 4 months ago? Has the world gone mad?

Yes, it has gone mad. This is why I can't really get to terribly angry at PatrickJ and those who support his side of the argument - they are the customer base, they don't understand what goes into the development and maintainence of this software, they don't care - and why should they? Fools like myself are tripping over ourselves, burning the candles at both ends, working ourselves into ill health and worse mental states like a bunch of crazed rats "buy my app!! no mine! Buy mine!! it's half the cost of the other guy's application!" At this point it doesn't even matter what it is we are selling, or even for how much, or even the quality of whatever it is. It's the illusion of "whether we are supporting our customers properly" or not at the end of the day, and that so many of us will jump through maniac hoops ("race to the bottom") only maintaiins that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To wrap-up, I will say this - if you are a pissed-off customer, fair enough. Just remember at the end of the day, there's guys out here like me working hard to cover so many of the bases of what we think it is that you guys want; we want you to be happy, it makes us proud to know that people are enjoying the fruits of our labor. We love hearing from you and telling us that you are satisfied and want more output from us. But we aren't doing this just for goodwill and solely that reason. Any software with a <$10 price tag is treading ridiculously close to that line, such as it is. Appreciate what we do, and we'll keep working hard to make your lives more enjoyable. Keep up with this attitude, and we just consider you a no-sale, if you get my meaning.

h4ns said...

What youre saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I also love the images you put in here. They fit so well with what youre trying to say. Im sure youll reach so many people with what youve got to say.

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