This is a very good question and one I’ve thought of quite a bit. What you have to ask is how much do you think an app is worth? What are people willing to pay for a good laugh, or for better productivity? What would you pay for it?
From the buyer’s point of view, you do get to the point where you feel ripped-off if an app doesn’t deliver. I bought some real losers in the early days and I’ve never used them. That experience moved me to be more careful when I’m thinking of actually purchasing. It’s not the money, though there is a psychology behind the willingness to throw away $0.99 versus $2.99. We’re not talking big money here so clearly something else is at play.
From the programmer’s point of view, the urge to choose a price point based on the cost to develop the app or what others are charging for similar apps must be strong – but not necessarily smart. The app can be appropriately priced and have to compete with inferior apps priced at next to nothing.
What is the solution?
A very valid point is made in this article – “If the rumor is true that Apple is starting to pressure developers into charging more for their apps, I think that Apple is looking in the wrong direction for a solution to low app prices. Instead, Apple needs to take a look at how their App Store works if they wish to make more money on apps. To help developers make more money for their apps and to help drive up app quality, I think that Apple needs to implement some sort of app preview system. This could be as simple as allowing people to download and try apps for thirty minutes before having to purchase the app in order to continue using it.”
Asking Apple to step up and think of ways to help developers keep Apple’s customers happy is not too much to ask. The pressure should not only be on the developers. Ultimately, consumers can set their own rules, as well.
From my point of view, I have decided to be more willing to support the development efforts and to stop expecting something for nothing. For the apps that were unsatisfactory I have decided to just shrug it off and consider the price a donation (easier to take this view at $0.99, to be sure). I may rate an app if I think it is particularly bad.
And now, I always consider that the price I pay is my contribution to the developer.