Premium Apps

Do you listen to Under the Radar with David Smith and Marco Arment? If you’re an iOS or Mac Developer you should consider it, it’s good.

The latest episode — Improving the App Store, Part 1 — is going to be quite controversial. I wouldn’t be surprised if Part 2 includes a bit of laughter and talk about how much mail they received.

Duct Tape, fixer of all things!I’ll admit, at first I was a bit miffed by how they couched their apps as Premium, maybe it was a bit of sour grapes on my part, but the more I listened the more I realized they were right, they do make premium apps. Once I got past that idea I was able to focus on what they were after; a Premium App Store.

The big question is this: What the heck is a Premium App Store? Well, I have some ideas, and they won’t align with what a lot of people believe is premium, but you have to find a way to separate Premium Apps from everything else.

Here are my thoughts on how to create a Premium App Category. This category would be front and center in the iOS App and Mac App Stores.

I belive a Premium App would be defined by the following traits:

  • Paid up front
  • Price starting at $9.99 and up for iOS and $19.99 and up for the Mac
  • No Ads
  • No In-App Purchase for tokens or fake money. Think Games.
  • Not a “Marketing Style” applications. Think Starbucks
  • Embraces new OS features where applicable
  • Possesses a level of fit and finish worthy of an Apple product

Some of these ideas are very subjective, others are objective. The idea of a Marketing Style application may be difficult to define as well as the Fit and Finish requirement. That’s fine. The App Stores already have this level of subjectivity and maybe there’s room for a bit more for this level of application.

I believe this small set of requirement could separate a small swath of excellent Indie and BigCo Applications from the Application Salad that exists today. Developers like David and Marco walk a fine line. They make their living writing applications in an extremely overcrowded app market. Something like a Premium App Store could make a YUGE difference in their bottom lines. Then again, it may fall on its face.

I think we’re going to find out really soon what Apple thinks. A few months back app developers received a questionnaire. That questionnaire was, as I recall, very marketing centered. I would expect the App Store to change quite a bit under Phil Schiller and I think those changes will begin as a set of marketing programs aimed at helping developers improve their “image’ in the eyes of users. I’d expect Apple to reach out to developers they believe have a strong product and offer to help them market their applications. This could be the beginning of an effort to indirectly build a Premium App Store.

That’s just a few thoughts on the matter.