New Productivity App 30/30 Tries New Donationware Model; Can It Work for Other Apps?
Since Apple allowed free apps to have in-app purchases, they’ve been a major revenue driver for games and apps alike. However, the purchases have usually given the user something: unlocking content, features, or providing time shortcuts in exchange for money.
Now, the new productivity app from Binary Hammer, 30/30, is trying something a bit different to try and make money. The app is entirely free to use. Users can set timers for various tasks, and be notified via push notifications when the timer is done. It’s intended to help users time their tasks, and figure out to stay on track with what they’re doing. It operates in a similar way to Clear in its relative minimalism. There are in-app purchases for $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99, but they don’t actually do anything. They’re just there to help support the developer.
The question is this: with this donationware model of where the only financial support is coming from users choosing to donate their money if they like the app, will it be able to support the app’s development if any money spent is not going toward features?
The problem is that free apps tend to monetize only a small percentage of their users. Published data, while possibly out of date, shows that about 3% of free-to-play games players will spend money in these games, and Temple Run, one of the most popular free-to-play titles, has been stated as getting 1% of users to pay. With no incentive for 30/30 users to pay, it may take massive download volume, or targeting of that specific set of users who would be willing to donate money for free apps they use, in order to properly support the app’s development.
Mobile Pie’s Will Luton has his doubts about Apple letting this sort of model catching on in a widespread way. He says, “I wouldn’t want to call a decision from Apple, but in my eyes a donation or shareware system goes against what Apple like, in spirit at least. We explored it as an option for monetizing a bundle of apps as part of Best of British, but decided it had a chance of getting pulled. Other apps exist with a ‘Thank Developer’ feature. But nothing of size.”
For other app developers looking to drive purchases by using this sort of donationware model, it may behoove them to have high value in-app purchases for these, instead of just the $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 values. Having options for even double-digit dollar values may help drive more ‘donations’ to help support their app using this model.
It would be similar to a tactic that the Humble Bundle uses. They have listings for $15, $25, $50, and $100, along with the “Custom amount” button. While the averages are still below those amounts (the average was just under $8 as of publication), this provides a subtle suggestion to spend more money, which may be helping with keeping the average price of the bundle as high as possible. The 5th bundle is just under $8 as of publication – not in the double digits, but considering that many users may be spending just the dollar necessary to generate Steam codes, it’s clearly working.
Most importantly, the advantage that iOS donationware using this model (which Apple has approved, with 30/30 now available) has should not be discounted – that people can easily use their iTunes login details from within the app to pay. That alone may help it generate more donations than much donationware out there. If Binary Hammer shares their data on whether this business model is successful, it may help prove whether or not other developers try to adopt this model.