10 Year Indieversary AMA Postmortem

Thanks everyone for joining the AMA yesterday! Was a fun experience :)

We talked about a couple of technical and historic things. Here’s an outline of the pieces:

  • My first App Store success
    • When I released Calendar Paste v1 in 2012, I shaved my head and got a mohawk to celebrate the sales.
    • Calendar Paste was submitted on 2012-11-25 and got approved 2012-12-14. Reviews times back then were the worst!
    • Back then I posted about the time I logged to work on this v1:

      The first, very successful two weeks of sale having passed, this adds up to a whopping $1.03 hourly rate! I sold the app 181 times […].

    • 10 years later, iOS Calendar.app still doesn’t support copy and pasting.
  • My product release dates (major versions only)
    • 2018-03-15: The Archive v1
    • 2016-09-27: TableFlip v1
    • 2015-12-11: Make Money Outside the Mac App Store (ebook)
    • 2015-11-02: Minimal Writing on the Mac (ebook)
    • 2015-09-16: Calendar Paste v3
    • 2015-08-04: Exploring Mac App Development Strategies (ebook)
    • 2014-07-04: WordCounter v1
    • 2014-05-20: Tapping Test app
    • 2014-03-03: Calendar Paste v2
    • 2012-11-24: Calendar Paste v1
    • 2010-10-05: First post on christiantietze.de that’s still available
  • My take on subscription as a business model
    • As a developer, perpetual income is super nice.
    • Business-wise, it makes sense to bill regularly for a service you provide: maintenance and updates.
      • Depending on the subscription model, this turns your app into a SaaS.
      • This raises (well-known) questions about ownership of software, and licenses.
    • As a user, I prefer the Sketch pricing model of “pay for 1 year of updates”, aka “non-renewable subscriptions” (thanks for the term, Marin!).
    • Panic’s text-editor Nova works in a similar way: “ Cancel anytime and keep what you have, forever. Easily resume later.”
      • $99 for the first year, $49 for each following year.
      • They promise 1 year of updates and manage expectations really well.
      • When their main dev needs a break, your subscription is extended for you so you don’t miss out. (→ Panic’s Newsletter
        • Poor Logan seems to be the sole dev, amazing!
        • This also highlights how much pressure this could build up.
    • Do you want to worry about people skipping every odd year? When you re-subscribe, you’ll get the latest version, so waiting out 1 year of updates can save you money. Is that unfair?
      • I personally don’t think so. They do miss out for a whole year, after all.
      • It’s a bit of a hassle to “game” this, and you don’t get much in return as a user, so as a dev, I would not worry about this. Other users likely won’t care, either.
    • Derek Sivers sells his content to you, no matter the format.
      • Purchase the hardcover version of the book, and you get the ebook as well.
      • If you have access to the ebook, you also get access to audio and video versions of the same content.
      • That sounds fair to me, in principle. But as a content creator, I don’t know if this would be a viable business model.
      • Keep in mind: Derek doesn’t need the money. He’s financially independent as far as I can tell from his writing and podcasts.
      • Derek sells you the content for $15. That’s not a so-called “sustainable” price for a nice product when you have to spend months writing, then more months recording audio and cutting everything, then even more resources on a video format. Business-wise, you’d need a $15 product like this to sell a metric crapton of copies.
      • If the average developer/content creator wants to replicate the approach and needs charge more for ebook + audio + video to make the thing work well, you end in a B2B or premium segment, selling a more expensive bundle, say at $200, or maybe discounted to $99 even when people purchase everything at once. $15 is crazy low unless you have an abundance mindset and reaaaaaally want to get the content out into the world (offsetting the production cost as “marketing”).
    • We also explored micro-transactions for features when Oliver pointed out this doesn’t seem to be done. Token economy in apps. Didn’t resonate much :) Maybe that’s why we don’t see that outside of gaming.
    • In-app purchases to buy new features are an alternative.
      • I think beorg does this pretty well.
        • You can buy various “advanced” features, and I noticed how these were added over time.
        • Beorg also has a tip jar. That’s where their income from me stems from. I’m tipping a couple of Euros every now and again when an update does something cool, or the release notes are surprisingly long and detailed.

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