I'm glad to hear that releasing a major update for free paid of
for you. But I guess getting featured by Apple also helped a little
But I doubt that your experience can be applied to all
applications. There's software like ours, which serves what I would
consider a niche market. Such software titles need paid
No matter, how good you software is, at same point you got your
market covered and sales start a slow decline. You probably won't
see that happen with games or general purpose apps that appeal to
everyone (TO-DO lists).
Still existing customer will ask for support, bug fixes,
maintenance updates to keep the software running on new devices and
new OS versions.
There are three factors that worsen the situation:
1. Your app also provides some kind of back-end infrastructure,
which comes at a monthly cost. These bills have to be paid no
matter how many customer still buy your software.
You software interfaces with a service (let's say eBay), which
is not under your control. This service is constantly changing,
sometimes fundamentally, thus requiring rewrites of large parts of
your code base. It's just economically feasible to implement all
the required changes just to keep the software useable for
The original cost (let's say $20+) of the software make it
unreasonable to release a major upgrade as a new product at full
price. Customers don't like it. They will keep using the original
You are not Wil Shipley having made a fortune on the original
release of the software.
I still maintain you are exaggerating the importance of the
upgrade pricing itself. Wil Shipley showed that for 18-24 months
after his DL2 release, upgrades accounted for 24% of revenue. That
would be a lot, if it were to continue over the full 4 years since
DL2 was released. I suspect the figure is something closer to 10%
taken over 4 years. The question then is whether you would get that
10% back via other channels in MAS, such as featuring, or just word
of mouth generated by all those people installing their free
If you are truly in a niche market, you will probably have to
use a different approach to mainstream apps, that is certainly
true. But I would argue there are plenty of different options
already available in MAS. For example, you could introduce in-app
purchases for the backend syncing you refer to, or other features.
The advantage of this approach is that nobody is ever left behind
on an unsupported version because they don't want to pay the
upgrade. Everyone starts with the same base configuration, the very
latest version, and can purchase modules that they want. The
customer gets the latest gear, and you get extra revenue when they
Customers in a true niche market are generally also prepared to
pay more. Scarcity has a price. If you really can't get by with IAP
and unpaid upgrades, then you could just use full paid upgrades,
like Apple will undoubtedly be doing. I'm sure the next Keynote
will cost $19.99, whether you bought the first one or not.