During the week I found out that Flexibits were releasing a major upgrade to their OS X calender app, Fantastical. When Fantastical first came out, I bought a copy from the App Store and since then I’ve used it on a daily basis. I can’t remember how much I paid for it, but it was money well spent. For close to two years, I got an excellent calendar app that sat in my menu bar and did the job it was intended to do. It came with a number of minor upgrades to the application over the time that I used it. Not bad value for money.
Today I opened the App Store, found Fantastical 2, bought it and installed it. No hesitation, no pondering if the application is in fact worth the purchase or even deciding whether Flexibits deserve my hard-earned cash for the new version of Fantastical (they do btw).
I don’t mind paying for major upgrades to software that I use. Not only am I supporting the future of the software product that I am using by ensuring money goes back into the company that produced it, but I’m also supporting the developers who make the software. For developers, writing code is a way of making an income to support themselves and in some cases also supporting their families. Some developers work for clients, some provide consulting services, but for indie developers and small software houses like Flexibits, they work on a business model that requires income from people buying their software. Nothing wrong with that. It’s how many businesses work.
Here’s the problem though. Some people expect the software they buy to be supported for life. That’s a ridiculous idea and here’s why.
Software doesn’t last for ever.
Changing operating systems and technology as well changes in the way we work means that software will always change. It’s just the way things are, and it’s not restricted to the world of technology and software either. Lots of products we buy can last for years, but they’ll rarely last us a lifetime. Software isn’t any different. When I buy a software product, I’ll expect a couple of years worth of updates before having to buy the next version up of the product. It just makes sense.
When apps first appeared on the App Store as different versions, there was an initial push back against the idea. People were complaining about having to buy the app again that they had already forked out a few dollars for in the past. I’m glad to see though that there’s less resistance to the idea of new major versions of software and apps coming with a price tag.
If the app you use makes a positive difference to your day, then why wouldn’t you fork out the money for a new major version of it? If the developer of the app is releasing a new major version every year then I might see the point against paying for that app, but most app developers are giving their apps a couple of years at least before releasing a completely new version of their app.
Software doesn’t last for ever, but with the support of you as a paying customer, it can keep going for as long as the developer has the financial support they need to keep working on it. That’s a small price to pay for an app that makes a big difference to your day.