Ben Lovejoy has an extremely well-thought out opinion piece over at 9to5Mac regarding a possible reason why Apple has decided to end the Free Single of the Week promotion (as well as the 12 Days of Christmas, et al.):
What has all this to do with Apple apparently moving away from freebies? Perhaps it’s an attempt to change the culture. To move us away from an increasing expectation that content–be it apps, music, movies or anything else–should be free. To stand for the idea that content is worth paying for.
Granted, Ben is spitballing a little here, but I totally think he’s on the right track. The App Store is a mess right now, both in app discovery as well as the actual app content (too many clones and knockoffs). Apple needs to figure out a way to implement trial versions of apps that time out after some period of time to allow “try before you buy” app purchases (or some other Apple-y way to do this).
I do understand that perhaps offering a “free” download then taking in-app purchases is a key method that developers can get their apps in front of users. Let’s face it, app discovery is atrocious, and Apple’s past acquisitions of app curating and ranking startups hasn’t really born fruit in this area. So developers feel they need to offer their apps for free as a “try before you buy” kludge.
Also, many app developers use the IAPs as a business model for generating their revenue (I’m looking at you, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood). I can understand this for ultra-casual games that people can pick up, play a few minutes while they wait at the doctor, then put away. Not my kind of game, but I can see why this model works for this kind of game.
But for the majority of games, developers, please stop this. I will pay you the well-deserved $9.99 (or whatever it is) for your game or app outright. Don’t deluge me with ads, and don’t stop the game and ask me to review your app. I think you will produce better, more immersive games, and you will make more money from people like me who don’t want to screw around with these shenanigans.
Furthermore, Apple has been masterful at leading users’ habits down a steady path of acceptance and adoption. The evolution of iOS is a great example-Apple didn’t want to overwhelm users with too much change too fast, so it gradually introduced features and UI methodology as users became more accustomed to the interface. This is the thrust of Ben’s post: get Apple users used to paying for shit again because good shit is worth paying for.