Stop Using The Cup of Coffee vs. $0.99 App Analogy | A Designer Life:

Fact: Starbucks Coffee is a Trustable Experience

I know I’ll like my cup of coffee. It will fully meet my expectations. For the $4 I spend I don’t expect it to change my life. I don’t expect it to even last beyond its last drop (and a trip to the bathroom later). It’s an experience I can fully trust will be pretty much the same each time. There’s no gamble here. ...

In short, I know what I’m getting for $4 and I’m getting that same experience every time I hit the drive thru.

Fact: Your $1 App is a Total Gamble

Now, contrast this with your app, Mr. Developer. I don’t know you from Adam. ... The return I’m going to get is questionable at best.... I’m assured of nothing. Last week I bought a game for 99 cents and it was terrible. I played it once, for 15 seconds. I could be shoving $1 straight down the toilet again for all I know. Your app, good sir, is a total gamble.

Note that he doesn't say your app. Okay, okay, that's wrong.  He does, very explicitly, say "your app", but the "you" there isn't you, the specific, real, quality app author.  It's "you" the composite app developer, that makes lots of unScottish (aka "crap") apps.  It's how the concept of "app developer" appears to your audience -- an author-persona, if you will.  (See, honestly, how many dev blogs mention Foucaultian terms?  No additional cost to you.  I know.)

How do you make your $4 app a trustable experience?  That's an app developer's -- any app store software developer's -- challenge.

Or, as Jeff Atwood says in App-pocalypse Now (linking to the post above):

Have you ever noticed that the people complaining about apps that cost $3.99 are the same people dropping five bucks on a cup of fancy coffee without batting an eyelash? Me too, and I'm with the coffee people. $3.99 for your app? Outraaageous!
Imagine you bought your coffee, only to open the lid and find it was only half full, or that it wasn't coffee at all but lemonade. If only 1 in 5 cups of coffee you bought actually contained coffee, a $3.99 price for that coffee starts to seem unreasonably high. When you buy an app, you don't really know what you're going to get.

Turns out, the precious resource here isn't the money after all. It's your time.

More specifically, it's your attention, but those terms are relatively interchangeable.

There's only so much attention to pass around.  Folks set aside time to take a look at new apps, with an expectation in their head of what they'd like to find.  It's like rushing to a store to take advantage of a sale.  If the item you want isn't there, you've wasted your time, and that, you can never get back.  You're not so upset that the item isn't there, but that you traded in your time trying to back it.

If I'm actively looking for an app that does X, I typically can't afford to try out 15 of them.  I have $5 set aside to find a great RSS reader.  I research.  I try out free alternatives.  I finally shell out for Unread.  I still feel it's not as good as it could be.  How many times to I shell out $5 trying to find a good one?  How long do I lurk around review sites?  When do you settle for what you've got/good enough?

How do you, as an app developer, rise to the top of that process?

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