Monday, 15 August 2011

How to we redeem the IAP?

Making money in the mobile music app ecosystem has flaws, there's no doubt about that, but it's a growing market and as such it has possibilities all of which have good examples of making them work.

I've seen developers create one app and make it work in the market by continually updating it and improving it. Of course, existing customers never pay for the upgrades and the only way of generating any new revenue is from new customers, but it's a growing market so that is workable in the main.

I've seen developers continually create new applications and put them in the market, but this is difficult as the code base to maintain continually grows and maintaining these apps is costly in itself.

The third model is to create an app with an in-app purchase store that allows existing users to buy new content and/or functionality for the app on a regular basis. However, this option is the one where I hear the most criticism of developers from users.

So my question today is what can we do to redeem the humble IAP, and more importantly, why does it seem so unpopular?

Establishing a platform within your app has always seemed to me to be a good idea. One of the first apps / developers to do this was RJDJ selling scenes in their app, and strangely I've never heard any complaints about this in app store. However, others have not been so well received. But why, and more importantly, what can we do to turn the situation around?

Of course, I could be wrong, and I could be hearing just the people who don't like the idea. Either way, I'd love to hear views from the developer community and the user community too. Tell me what you think.

I hope that you find this useful. If you have suggestions for future articles or if there's anything in the article you want to discuss further then please email me at If you like this article then please consider sharing it using the buttons below.

1 comment:

  1. Damn, Ashley, you really like to find the micro-niches. I’ll help you get the ball rolling here by throwing down the gauntlet to developers.

    My grievances with Retronyms are already well worn, so instead of harping on them I’d like to point out a couple of others that I think have poorly served the community.

    Audanika caught a lot of shit for the way SoundPrism was forked to Pro for MIDI out, but I’d give them a pass on that. It was largely Apple’s policies that forced them into that position. Audanika’s failing is in the way they have implemented an IAP for what are essentially SoundFont files. On the face of it, charging $2 for a SoundFont that has been lovingly crafted is fine, but it reveals they have the underlying tech to allow users to add their own. Instead of opening it up, they’re keeping users locked in to purchasing sound packs. This is a missed opportunity for the whole community. I would buy Pro if I could add my own sounds. Hell, Audanika could even go one step further by offering a SoundFont compiler for iOS. Think of how compelling SoundPrism Pro would be if you could design sounds in Addictive, AudioCopy/Paste into a “SoundFont Pro”, tweak and then export that to play in SoundPrism Pro’s super-sexy interface! The community losses all of this potential for the sake of a $2 IAP, which could still be an option for people who don’t want to design their own sounds.

    I think most people would agree the largest IAP offender in the community is Fairlight’s CMI Pro. I nearly bought that on day one, but fortunately enough people were suckered before me to get the word out on this con. I would have gladly coughed up $50 for a real CMI app, but $50 for a crippled sampler with an archaic sequencer? Fuck everything about that. No one who bought that was buying it for some CMI samples, they were expecting the unique sound design of the CMI!

    I think what we’re seeing here in this young market are the same troubles game developers had in the early days of Downloadable Content (DLC). There were a lot of exploitive money-grabs, as people tried to figure out how to double-dip on game sales. There are still a few who use brand-recognition to perpetuate this, in much the same way Fairlight banked on their name. Developers have to ask themselves if they want to be the Activison of music apps; milking every last drop under hype, marketing and questionable practices. The alternative is to develop fans that will gladly support you, such as Activision’s competitors who now offer free DLC to early adopters and pre-orders. Remember, we’re musicians, we understand fan support.


Thanks for leaving a comment. If there's anything else you want help with then please email me at