Why Are People So Irrational About the Price of iPhone Apps?

Why is it that iPhone/iPod owners can be so picky about the prices of apps after they fork over $300 on an iPod Touch or a few thousand for a 2-year iPhone contract? I see it all the time. People complain about a useful application that they would use every day costing less than half the price of a Big Mac at McDonalds.

I don’t get it.

There is some really great software in the app store, but the developers aren’t making as much money as they probably should be for their efforts. Believe me, software development isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and frustration to build an amazing application, whether it’s an iPhone app or a web application. It bothers me that developers can barely get away with charging $1.99 for anything but a game. Tweetie, back before Twitter bought it and made it their free official app, was well worth its $2.99 price tag. I might have paid more for if the price had been a little higher. Many users would not have. After all, there was a big “outrage” about 1.0 users having to pay $1.99 for Tweetie 2.

I don’t think most people fully appreciate what it takes to develop software. I imagine the same problem is true for other fields. (Auto mechanics come to mind. Everyone whines about how much it costs to get their car fixed, but the garages have to pay for parts and labor somehow…)

What do you think? Should developers be able to charge more without scaring away customers and/or sending them into an entitlement-fueled rage? Am I too biased? Or should all software be free and GPL’d and all that Stallmanesque craziness?

  • http://mealybar.co.uk/ Richard

    It’s perhaps something to do with it being a “real” transaction. I mean because it goes through your credit card appears on a statement or two. It’s not quite like flicking a few coins for a magazine, bag of sweets, etc… even if they’re the same $£$£ amount.

    • http://www.webmaster-source.com Matt

      Maybe. Another theory I’ve heard is that the perceived “normal” price is $0.99 (0.99 Euro, 70p GBP?) and anything over that is subconsciously considered to be “expensive.”

      I would think that having it be over a credit card would make people worry less about the price, since they’re not dealing with physical money. Maybe that’s just me…