Apple recently updated their SDK allowing developers to integrate in-app purchases into free applications opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
BeerMap, one of the projects I’m currently involved with is a free iPhone app which we have always intended to monetise once it reached maturity. We’ve recently started to discuss charging in iTunes however it gave us a few concerns:
- The application relies on user collaboration in order to generate data, charging for the application would probably reduce the uptake by new users.
- The application will take some time to reach maturity and is dependant on the feedback of our loyal user base.
We therefore have resisted charging for the app and instead have begun to investigate other avenues.
Last Saturday was a BeerMap development day during which we discussed the possibility of monetisation using in-app purchases and we think we may have come up with a novel solution; Pay What You Want.
Pay What You Want is not a new concept; in 2007 Radiohead allowed music lovers to download their new album and choose how much they want to pay. More recently 2D Boy used the same model when celebrating the first birthday of World of Goo, achieving a large number of sales and yielding a surprising profit.
Combining pay what you want and in-app purchase capability in BeerMap would allow users to decide whether they want to pay for the app or not! Apple provides payment tiers to which we will be limited so it won’t be 100% pay what you want, however these represent reasonable prices which users will be familiar with.
We plan to incentivise payment, potentially by giving the user access to extra features or awarding them recognition within the BeerMap community.
We hope this model will ensure we don’t scare off new users who don’t want to and will never want to pay, while providing people with the option to support the project and to show appreciation for our work.
Image credit: Alex Osterwalder