Are the App Stores Devaluing Your Organization’s Products?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on August 21, 2012

Image of the App Store Icon My favorite handwriting curriculum company (Handwriting Without Tears) just released an app through the iTunes store. It’s called Wet Dry Try and it helps kids practice writing their upper case letters and numbers. The app is great. It responds nicely, it’s got a nice reward system and it teaches really great habits. The app costs $4.99.

What I find interesting are some of the comments about how expensive the app is. One person said $4.99 was really expensive and he wished the app did more. In my mind, the app is a bargain. I paid $4.99 for a Blue’s Clues book that my 2 year old and I will read a dozen times (okay, maybe more, he loves Blue’s Clues). I paid $15 for a workbook we’ll use for a couple of weeks. My lunch today was nearly $6! We’ll use this handwriting app for months and if it teaches my little one good writing habits, it will be worth 100 times the $4.99 I paid!

So I got to thinking. Most of the apps I see in the app store are free, $.99 or $1.99. So by comparison, the WetDryTry app at $4.99 seems expensive.

But if I were to sell a book or software program at a brick and mortar bookstore or even, $4.99 would seem like nothing.

So it’s all about context and comparison. This is what worries me about the app stores. When so many items are priced at $.99, how can my association clients possibly release publications and services at prices close to what they would charge in their normal stores?  Consider this: Keynote, Apple’s presentation software that competes with PowerPoint, is about $100 for the desktop version and $9.99 for the iPad version. Sure, the products do different things and I can’t do everything on the iPad version that I can in the desktop version. But the iPad version is feature-rich and amazing. Is Apple just trying to give Keynote away or are they making money on volume?

I’ve decided that most organizations are much better off with a free or promotional strategy.

What about organizations that want to sell their publications through an app store? Today, I think they are better off selling an epub version through Amazon, or direct through their own stores.

Are the app stores devaluing products and services? I think the jury is still out but I recommend that organizations think twice before putting their core products and services into apps that could lower their perceived value or lower perceived customer/membership value. What do YOU think?

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