On Apps, Pricing, and Being a Cheapskate

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Everyone wants free stuff, right?

From soiled mattresses to trampolines, it's hard to say no to a freebie. The prospect of something for nothing can be irresistible.

On the other hand, we all know the age old wisdom—You get what you pay for.

So how does this mesh up with apps? Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you like getting paid for your work?
  • Do you feel it's necessary to get paid for your work to support yourself and family?
  • Do you believe in supporting people who make good things?
  • Do you believe in paying for things that you value?

I'm going to guess that your answer to each of these is a yes. Then why do so many of us get irritated about paying for apps?


I hear negative remarks from folks about buying new apps or having to pay just to upgrade an existing app. I hear it in real life as well as online.

It can get especially hairy in the school systems. Funds are cut and slashed to next to nothing, and the educators are forced to make due with table scraps. Money is tight for many of us. It can be tough to choose what to buy.

Being a cheapskate

The bottom line is that lots of people simply don't want to have to pay for apps. I used to be one of those people.

But, the answers to those questions are still yes, right? Right?

So I made a choice a couple of years ago to suck it up and pay app developers for their hard work. It's their job and apps are their product. They are trying to support themselves and their families doing something valuable and enjoyable.

It was a challenge at first. I was used to skating by with free (and mostly subpar apps). I even hesitated at buying 99¢ ones. Yikes.

Then I started thinking. I wouldn't head into the local coffee shop and assume there was free coffee. They sell coffee. It's their business. I also wouldn't demand a free cup just because I bought one from them yesterday.

Value and worth

I thought more about the value and less about the money. If the app was worth it, if it was quality, and if it made my life better in some way I would buy it.

Now it makes me happy to pay for apps that I enjoy and are a delight to use. I feel good about supporting app developers. I want to make sure they are compensated for their time and effort. And I feel good about doing it.

To go back to the coffee—free coffee usually isn't good, and good coffee usually isn't free.

Don't be afraid to pony up a for an app that's worth it. You'll make the world a little better for buying it.

Here are a few of my favorite paid apps I've bought. I use them all the time, and they're worth every penny to me:

1Password: Password manager
Byword: Text editor
Things: To-do manager
TextExpander: Text expansion shortcuts
Fantastical: Natural language calendar
Day One: Journaling
Mindnode Pro: Mind mapping
Drafts: Quick notes and more
Tweetbot: Twitter client
Camera+: Superb iPhone camera
Instapaper: Read-it-later service
Reeder: RSS reader

Do you have any favorite paid apps?