When we released the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder as a new app in the fall of 2013, we faced quite a backlash from angry Viewfinder Basic/Pro/Cine users who demanded free upgrades until eternity.
The problem was, and still is, that one can’t innovate in the “pay once, upgrade for free forever” model. Especially in the professional app area, where downloads are not counted in millions, and development is really expensive. Relying only on new app sales does not result in a sustainable business on the long run, or will result in tombstone apps with no updates for years.
This is bad for all three involved parties: users, developers and Apple.
Fast forward to the fall of 2014. With iOS 8 the App Store introduced an exciting new feature, called bundles. Developers quickly figured out that this feature could be used to offer upgrades. We introduced Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder upgrades at the end of November.
As it turned out quickly, users love it (the number of complaints went to zero from the weekly 1-2, no bad reviews, etc). And as you can see on the following graph, we love it too.
On average, upgrades increased the app’s profit by 42% during the last 12 months. That means that Apple also earns more money selling this app, so they should also love it.
Upgrades are a well established way to make a software business sustainable. It has clear benefits for all involved parties in the professional software area. Even in niche markets, like ours. Maybe things are different for games or worthless farting apps, but I have no experience with those.
I would really welcome a real, proper upgrade pricing model for the App Store, so that we don’t have to fiddle with suboptimal hacks. Oh, and please introduce that to the Mac App Store as well.
But until then, we keep to offer upgrades using the bundle method to keep our loyal users, Apple, and ourselves happy.