I bought an iPad recently.
I have an iPhone. I have a Mac.
And when I want to do interesting things on them, I am frequently left sad.
One of the amazing things about the Web was the rise of the ad-supported business model. Almost everything out there is available for free and things that aren’t free feel cheap.
But more importantly, with the abundance of APIs, I feel like the expectation is that people pay for application logic, not for user interfaces.
Let me give you an example of this, specifically, the example that made me sad enough to write this post:
I use Remember The Milk for my to-do lists. Remember the Milk is a free web site (no ads) and then for $25/year you get access to blackberry, android, iphone and other platforms.
When I made the move to Mac, I asked everyone “how do people keep to-do lists on the Mac?” Everyone told me “Things”! So I went and checked it out. Things’ pricing model is not nearly as friendly: $49.95 for the mac version. $19.99 for an iPad version. $9.99 for the iPhone version. I felt like I was getting nickeled and dimed. Every place I want to access my data requires I pay.
These companies are basically the same size. When I look on their web site, the maker of Things, Cultured Code has 9 people. Remember The Milk has 6 people but 5 job openings. Functionality is not dramatically different, which is no surprise given the similar size and state of the two businesses.
Why do you have to pay so much more for Cultured Code’s product? I think the obvious answer is that web-based products have better scale attributes. Remember The Milk can simply sign up more customers faster – they recently blogged that they had signed up more than 2 million customers.
This is true in a variety of markets. Balsamiq has a bigger market opportunity than Omnigraffle, so they are pricing their product in a way that not only maximizes their market opportunity, but is a fraction of the price of Omnigraffle. While Omnigraffle is better today (IMHO), I wouldn’t count on that lead being sustainable (Once again, IMHO).
The contrast becomes even more stark when you look at ad supported vehicles. There is a lot of free stuff on the web. Inside of Apple’s world, where they are training people to pay for everything, everything costs a lot of money. Apple is rolling out iAds to try to address some of that inequity.