Software pricing

Posted on May 01, 2013

A new version of Riposte was released recently which included “Riposte Pro”, a $5 in-app purchase to unlock a brand new set of features. Whining ensued.

I’m going to get straight to my point. The App Store has been poisonous to what users expect to pay for software. Let me tell you about a few pieces of software I’ve purchased. Around a decade ago, my iMac was running Mac OS X 10.0.3. I was probably 10 or 11 years old, but I learned that Apple had released a new version of their operating system, Mac OS 10.1. After a substantial amount of begging, my parents paid $30 or so and I received, in the mail, a bunch of disks with not only Mac OS 10.1, but a disk with Project Builder, and if I recall correctly, some variant of Mac OS 9. Much newer versions than that are now available for free on Apple Developer Connection.

In 2009, I gave Apple $30 for a copy of Snow Leopard. In 2011, I gave Apple another $30 for Mountain Lion. Last year I paid another $20 for Mountain Lion. I’ve purchased Mac OS X at least four times (not including tens of Macs that I’ve bought). Later this year, Mac OS 10.9 will probably come out, and I’ll probably pay whatever the asking price is. I’m not going to whine about it, but I’m sure someone on the internet will.

I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that when you purchase an app on the App Store, you generally don’t purchase a service agreement with it. As long as the app does what the developer said it does, they’ve held up their side of the bargain. If that developer never ships a software update, that’s their decision. When a new version of Mac OS X comes out with a laundry list of enhancements and brand new features, it’s entirely fair to charge for them. They were never part of the original package I purchased, and I paid for Mac OS X with no promise, or even knowledge that they were going to be added.

I bought a motorcycle last year. Adding some luggage boxes would be really great, and Suzuki offers them, but they cost a lot of money. I decided that I didn’t want to spend the money, so I’m continuing to use my motorcycle’s core functionality as effectively as I did before I knew about the options or their pricing. I’d look like a fool if I complained that Suzuki is charging for their accessories. Take that to imply whatever you wish.