It all started with the bug of universal app concept on Windows: you can sell only whole the package at a time. And people don’t necessary need it. On the desktop side this is still OK – price of the pack is essentially the same as the price of the desktop app or slightly higher but not in a way that someone would bother with that. Trouble comes on the phone side, as those people that don’t need the desktop app must pay several times more than they should!
Microsoft is pretty aware of this problem when its products are in the question – Office touch will be free for Phones and will be licensed for the desktop. But until Microsoft doesn’t fix this problem in a proposed way in UserVoice, developers must find some workaround.
At the launch of the Windows Phone version of Share to Speech app, my view was let’s try with the freemium version of the app. Users start at free price, and if they want the full experience they buy pieces of experience, so if they buy only phone in-app purchases they end at essentially less price than the universal app. And they also have upgrade path to eventually one day buy in-app purchases of the desktop app, and have the same experience as buyers of the universal app, though at the higher price if they went that path.
Also there were all around stories that people like more to use free apps, and that those apps have much more downloads, which eventually makes up for less revenue per download. So I said, why not, let’s bring this new idea to millions of people for free and some money will come this or that way, I am not trying to be a millionaire anyway, just finding the ways to support my work from the app revenue.
Well it didn’t happen like that. At the end paid app had more downloads than freemium version. It is truth that it was featured in the Store, but even in the time it was not featured its downloads were just slightly below of the freemium version. Not 10x below as one would have guessed. And it was clear that freemium was bad for sales – many people were asking on support whether they need to pay something to make something else work, because they hadn’t find the way to the feature. But I couldn’t put restrictions so unreasonably low. All in all freemium ended with something like 2% of all revenues.
But that was not the only problem. There was huge group of users that was not willing to use freemium version, but only the full phone version at correct price, which is obviously impossible. And as there were more and more hours put in the app and it was reasonable for price of the universal app to rise somewhat, this would get into bigger and bigger problem.
As it didn’t work, I had to go to the second workaround of the Store pricing bug – launching the paid Phone edition. It is the same as the universal app just doesn’t have the desktop app and can’t share and receive from it. But it’s price is 2.49$, less than a half . You can get it from the Windows Phone Store.
Why freemium didn’t work? I can only guess: