The Problem with Pricing for Task apps on the iPhone
Posted by onlydarksets on October 3, 2008
I made a comment about TaskData (an app that syncs tasks directly with Exchange) being overpriced, and the developer, Phillip Zedalis, posted a response stating that he thought it was priced reasonably in relation to the other apps out there. I actually agree that, relative to the other apps out there, it is priced correctly. However, I think they are all priced incorrectly, and I wanted to expound on that.
First off, I strongly believe that Task synchronization should be handled by ActiveSync – it’s built into the ActiveSync specification, and Windows Mobile has no trouble doing it. There’s no technical barrier, so this is a business decision by Apple that baffles me, especially since they want to make inroads into the enterprise.
- Those that sync with nothing.
- Those that sync with the cloud.
- Those that sync with Outlook (desktop client).
- Those that sync with Exchange.
Ideally, the leader should set pricing for everyone. In this case, I would consider that to be the best products in the fourth category (of which there is currently one – TaskData). However, pricing was set by the earliest products, which were in the first category. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it has artificially raised the prices for all of the Task apps.
The first category (see about 200 apps) is worth no more than $1.99. I don’t care how many bells and whistles it has – if the data is stuck on the phone, the app is of marginal use.
The second category (see Appigo’s Todo) should be priced at $4.99. The power is not in the app – it’s in the cloud. The fact that a different third-party app (would that be “fourth-party”?) allows you to sync to Outlook (which can then sync to Exchange) isn’t a huge justification for its current pricing – for example, what if ToodledoSync ceases being developed?
The third category (see KeyTasks) should be priced at $6.99. Again, the power is in Outlook, and I think a premium is warranted for one-step syncing to your enterprise calendaring/messaging system (OK, it’s really two-step, since Outlook has to sync with Exchange, but that’s a zero cost process).
The fourth category (see, of course, TaskData) should be priced at $9.99. Here, the power is in the app – true one step syncing with Exchange.
So, that leaves Mr. Zedalis with two options:
- Accept the current pricing levels, take your premium, and make fewer sales.
- Price appropriately, increase sales, and force everyone else to adjust their pricing.
I don’t know the right answer – without access to sales data, it’s not possible to say which is correct, and even then it’s just forecasting. Long term, though, it’s usually option #2. I’m not saying he’ll double sales, but the increase in sales should offset the price difference (and then some). Of course, this is only an academic exercise for me – it’s not my product.