Our Collective Weirdness Over the Price of iPhone Apps

I’ve noticed an interesting thing about iPhone apps: People are very weird when it comes to parting with their money to purchase apps.

This is the latest topic I’m obsessing over. I can’t tell you how many blog entries and tweets I’ve read wherein the person was practically in the middle of an exestential crisis over deciding whether or not to buy an app.

Here’s a small sample of tweets:

When it comes to apps, it’s not the price tag that entices me or gives me pause. Instead, I evaluate the app against a mental checklist and answer the following questions:

  • Will the app enable me to be more effective with a particular task?
  • Will the app help me multitask?
  • Will the app reduce the cycle time of something I do on a daily basis?
  • Will the app enhance my creativity?
  • Was the app recommended to me by someone who knows how I tick?
  • Will the app inspire me or make me want to work harder or smarter?
  • Was the app created by someone who is an expert in their field, who I admire?
  • If my flight was canceled or delayed, would this app entertain me?

If the answer is yes, I tend to buy the app regardless of price.

This is when I don’t buy the app:

  • The app was recently featured on a popular blog
  • It was on a top 10 apps of the week list
  • I’m merely curious
  • I know the app will bore me about 10 minutes after I buy and download it
  • I’m feeling peer pressure to buy it

If I’m on the fence about purchasing an app, my MO is to download the “free” version and see if it makes an impression on me. And if there are multiple apps that do the same thing (e.g., Twitter apps), I make a list of the functionality I want/need, and then hunt for the app that meets my requirements.

I’ve thought of giving myself an iPhone app allowance. Like, for example, maybe I’d allocate $10 per month. Or if I felt a burning desire to purchase an app but I’m already over-budget, I’ll go without my daily Iced Coffee in favor of reallocating the funds to the iTunes Store.

How do you feel about buying apps? Do you have a methodology you’d like to share? 🙂

For the heck of it, I wanted to do some comparison shopping. The following is a list of things that cost the same amount as an “expensive” ($2.99 USD) iPhone app:

  1. 1/2 Gallon of Milk
  2. McDonald’s Happy Meal
  3. Hot Wheels (various styles)
  4. Starbucks Venti Coffee
  5. Tin of Altoids Chewing Gum
  6. 3.5 ounce Lindt Chocolate Bar
  7. Gallon of Gasoline
  8. Composition Notebook
  9. Reusable Shopping Bag
  10. Dry clean 1 shirt  (men’s shirt; women’s dry cleaning fees are higher)
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