Nov 15 AT 4:20 PM Clark Wimberly 25 Comments

Topic Tuesday: How should developers make money from apps?


It’s Tuesday so that means we’re back with another hot issue, ready for user-only discussion. Today we think we’ve picked what should be a heated topic, because the question revolves around money. Not just money, but how best to go about getting some without pissing off all the users.

How should developers make money from apps?

I know that’s sort of a general question, but hear me out. One of the complaints I see in the Market (and here in the comments) most often is app price, banner adds, free vs paid feature set, etc. It’s clear that the way developers monetize apps is a hot button issue.

What’s also clear is that developers need (and deserve) to make money. So we figured a Topic Tuesday was in order, where you guys could sound off and really decide your preferred way to support your favorite developers. Personally, I don’t mind the occasional banner ad, but I’d much rather pay a couple of bucks to purchase the ad-free version in the Market. Rarely do I find myself using in-app purchases, but that’s probably because I don’t play games very often. If I did, I could see myself buying some incremental upgrades. I can say with confidence that my least favorite way to monetize is the interstitial ad, aka those full-screen, hold-you-captive ads that seem to be popular in turn-based games. Or maybe ads in my notification bar, but I’ve never actually used an app that had them.

We asked some of the And Me Staffers what they thought, and Nick Gray likes in-app purchases that unlock new features, saying:

This is a quoteNick GrayAndroid and Me

Edgar mentions buying paid apps even if he doesn’t need the extra features, something I’ve done a couple of times just to say thanks to the developers:

It is important for developers to earn money for their hard work, but it is also important for us to know we are getting a good product. I have always preferred when developers have two versions of the app available; one free and one paid. I like to be able to get a free app (with ads), that allows me to test many of the features available to see how good it is. Then I can simply pay for the full application to get the best that the developers have to offer. If the premium features are not needed, then the developer can still earn money from the free app (through advertising). Personally, even if I do not need the paid features, I tend to purchase the full app if I believe it is making a good difference in daily life.Edgar CervantesAndroid and Me

So what do you prefer?

With so many modals (paid vs free, advertising, in-app upgrades, freemium, paymium, just to name a few) for monetization in the Market, we have to ask: which do you prefer? If an app has intrusive ads, will you completely skip it? If an app has a “donate” version, or paid version with very few new features, would you buy it anyway to support a developer you believed in? Sound off below! And remember, vote on other’s comments! This is Topic Tuesday, and all points for upvotes are multiplied.

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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