Mobile users are now readily paying for content that they could access for free on the web. It may seem strange, but it’s true – a combination of high-quality devices, one-click payments and an established culture of small purchases (through iTunes), have meant that mobile platforms are flourishing where the web previously failed.
Of course, apps aren’t the gold mines that they’ve been hailed as in the past (just like websites in the 90’s), and as the money-making hype dies down, people are realising that they won’t be making their millions just by releasing an app.
People are spending money on apps though, which raises questions about what is coming next for the paid-for mobile market in terms of business models, pricing and longevity. Most users won’t spend more than around £4.99 on an iPhone app, and some high-end iPad apps have been successfully selling for over £9.99, but the mobile content market remains decidedly price sensitive.
There are people exploring the possibilities both in and out of outside Apple’s AppStore – the Finanical Times abandoned its own iOS apps in favour of a mobile-optimized web-app, but there have been few followers in its footsteps (apart from a few companies “experimenting” with the web-app format).
The New York Times has, however, launched an HTML5 iPad version of it’s website to subscribers, alongside it’s native app – starting to explore how their audience want to consume their content, and how readily they’re willing to pay for it.
But, many are using Apple’s own in-app purchase system, which is an extremely easy way for users to buy content, without really having to think about it, as their credit card details are already stored by Apple. Due to most user’s familiarity with the iTunes one-click purchase system, many users wouldn’t think twice about purchasing an audio track for £0.99, or a video for £1.49 – and Amazon’s Kindle is leading the way for digital downloads of books and other text-based content online.
As people grow more comfortable with purchasing through mobile, we could see more options emerging for easier purchasing of web content, or perhaps we’ll see people’s value of content, rather than products, start to change?
However people purchase and consume content in the future, we know that right now, people are happy to pay small amounts for apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions – if the content is good quality – so if you’re interested in taking the steps to get your organisation’s name in Apple’s AppStore or Google Play, your key concern should always be quality, and providing your users with an experience that they value, even if it’s free.