It looks like everybody is reaching the conclusion that the App business model isn’t something you can live on, killing the Indie dream that a lot of people have, and forcing a lot of the first movers to go back to working at regular companies. Check out Inessential if you’re not familiar with the subject first.
While some are seeing the “writing on the wall”, others are still hopeful that an upgrade feature on the app store or something like new categories such as iOS 8 Extensions can make it worthwhile again.
Some are even considering going to the OS-X platform, where the app store is not as populated and prices are still high enough to support a business. The problem is that … well you know what the problem is, desktop apps? Seriously?
The fact that we love writing software and want to do that for a living clouds our judgement when facing reality.
The reality is that software without a service or hardware associated is now worthless.
There might have been a lot of factors that led to this and it doesn’t seem to be just AppStore’s fault. I won’t focus on the why.
If your app is “just” a piece of software that everybody can also make, then it will have 100 competitors and the average selling price is 0 USD.
If you have a service attached, like Dropbox, you can charge something.
If you have a piece of hardware in the mix, like Fitbit for instance, you charge almost 100 USD upfront and there’s no problem with that.
The problem is that for you to have such a setup, you’re not an Indie developer anymore, but only just a developer in such a company.
You can argue that developers brought this problem on themselves but there’s a much bigger picture to look at, and that’s the new role of software in our industry.
Just open a new Macbook and watch all that free software in there: OS-X, iPhoto and company, Productivity apps, all free, no junkware, no trials!
What do you have left? Lots of boring industries where you can develop boring software and make money because no one wants to go there. And you need to provide support, storage and whatnot to justify a 50 USD/mo/user license. I’m sorry, but that’s it.
This of course, requires a company with sales people, support geeks, legal, designers, accounting and all those things Indie lovers were trying to get away from in the first place.