Photo by Adam Engst
We have long bemoaned the way that Apple’s App Store has driven the cost—and often the perceived value—of apps to nearly zero, making it difficult for even high-quality apps from small developers to succeed. It seems now that Apple had no idea this would happen at the time. Steve Jobs said in a 2008 interview that the company didn’t know what advice to give developers who were seeing increased sales by dropping prices. The consequence of that was an unsustainable business model for many developers, one that forced even successful developers to chase new customers rather than serving existing ones. Finally, in 2016, Apple made it possible for developers to sell subscriptions, and in 2017, it held a secret meeting with developers in New York City to encourage them to adopt the new approach. At Business Insider, Kif Leswing shares the story of how Apple realized it needed to promote subscriptions, how they’ve worked for developers of different sizes, and developer concerns that consumer reactions to subscriptions are mixed.