I do not want to leave the Palm platform, since I have become accustomed to it. But with the advent of WebOS, a nascient OS that may not serve my long term needs for data management, I am looking at other alternatives.
What has become important is something that never existed 2 years ago - an App store! Yes, we had Handango and a few other sites for Palm, but to be honest, apart from the excellent catalog layout - which is sadly lacking with Apples App Store - the content is not altogether brilliant. There are pockets of excellent programs, particularly in the medical field, but many others are too rudimentary to cost what they do. For example the average cost of an App is about $10.00, while on the Apple store, it is less than half
of that. Palm and Handango and other sites were able to dictate the prices due to the small niche held by Palm at the time - a very long time for that matter. Some of the prices were extraordinary. For example, SplashiD for Palm has been listed at well over $20 ever since its inception. It costs $24 as of this writing. I actually spent a lot of money purchasing it as one of my main pieces of software on my Palm. However, when the product was ported over to the Apple App store, it cost just $9.95. However, they sell a separate desktop edition for $19.99. Many people just use the handheld version, an obvious mistake since it can be lost in synching. But why the price discrepancy?
Let's look again at the Medical part of the Palm section on Ha
ndango. The first 20 applications on the site are selling at an average price of $40.80 per application !!! Granted some of these are quite good applications, but most are reference materials. Are these applications really worth the price that they have been declared for the past 8 years?
To be honest, if many of these applications were about 25% to 50% of the cost noted, I would have probably had a lot more apps on my Lifedrive, instead of relying so heavily on my Database programs. And how much were the developers making wit
h this approach? I can't imagine that many of them sold thousands of copies of their products without special discounts etc?
Which leads to the question. Why didn't anyone ever consider an idea like an App store before Apple? Why did Palm not consider doing this? Controlling this? It would appear that like Microsoft, Palm preferred to have the solution come from many different directions. What accrued in the end was a plethora of software, but alot of incompatabilities as well.
But all of that pales in comparison to the next scenario. Now folks, this is something that I either never knew about or just failed to understand. It is also why I believe some of the software was priced out of the stratosphere to begin with.
It turns out that many of the developers on Handango and other sites where Apps are sold have been paying a rather hefty fee for hosting their files there. How much? Well, let's look at the following chart, taken from The Boy Genius Report in February, 2008
So that's 50% of the gross revenue for most apps going to Handango !!!! With that finding, I am now seeing why the applications are so costly. So one would think that with some outrage at this pricing, things would change for companies that are coming on board with their own App store right? Wrong! Fast forward to todays Boy Genius Report that Microsoft, which owns a large chunk of the mobile market has decided to do something so heinous that I almost crawled out of my skin when I read it.
Microsoft has decided that in order to place an App in their new App store, a developer will be allowed 5 free apps before being charged $99 for each app. Sounds okay at first, until you realize that each update of an application counts as an application !!!! So, if you decide to come out with something in beta - as many on the Apple App store do (just don't tell them all it's a beta product), or you or your customers find a bug in the software, then you may end up paying Microsoft $99 for the pleasure of updating your application. So, you may say, why not just go somewhere else and have your files hosted? Mmmgh, have you seen Apple's traction data? Compare it to the data for "jailbroken" app stores. Infact compare it to the traction data for any Mobile store ever made.
The result of this kind of pricing "scheme" is to eventually fleece the very consumer that is trying to purchase a product. It hurts everyone. It may be the reason why we are seeing so much innovation in iPhone applications in such a short amount of time. I would say that Apple's iPhone now only 2 years old, and its App store which is less than 1 year old is acting like a 5-6 year old store (ie. Palm, Handango, Palminfocenter), the former kings. I would venture to say that Apple's drive to collect 30% of gross revenues appears to be extremely fair, given all other scenarios. Additionally, developers faced stiff competition in the App space, where reviews were so visible for software and the power of the iPhone numbers and central location made it possible for many developers to lower the price of their software and concentrate on volume, rather than attempting to find niche players.
However, there is always going to be holdout! If you have an iPhone, pop over to the app store and look at a program called Stat E&M Coder. The lite version is free, but the developer must have had a flashback to Handango/LSD/mushrooms??? He decided to charge $79.99 for the full version of the program !!!! You've got that correct, if you think that this is an E/M coder for the iPhone. It is just that. Granted it codes for different specialties and it does it well, but with just 2 reviews as of this writing, I'm begining to think that others believe that this is too pricey as well. Will the old Palm developers who used to charge $79.99 and $40.00 - $50.00 succeed with this type of pricing on the iPhone? My gut instincts say no. The drive is for volume and developers will make very little money selling high priced applications, regardless of how complex it is. So will they just avoid the platform? I say no! The platform is too big after only 2 years and it's only getting bigger and bigger.
And I have not even mentioned the dawning of the iPhone 3.0 SDK. What a thing of beauty that is. The ability to let the phone talk to other devices is just going to be phenomenal. Will Palms' nascient WebOS be able to deliver all of this and more later this year? I am begining to have my doubts. Of course I hope that they do, but come June my mind will be made up permanently about what the move for me will be. Right now, it's tipping a little towards Apple, for the same reason that it was on the side of Palm for so many years ------SOFTWARE!
BoyGenius Report 3/25/2009, "Honeymoon for developers and Windows marketplace developers may be over. "