Today’s Obsession: Killing Free Versions

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For our app developers in the audience, Marco Arment writes a generously long and well-thought piece at his site about his pricing and development practices. Marco’s the author of Instapaper, an app for reading longer pieces with better typography. Instapaper’s a great little piece of work; it’s designed to remove everything from your screen except the reading—many apps and sites integrate with Instapaper, already; it’s a lot like the reader button in Safari’s address bar. Check it out on the app store.

He’s discussing his experiments with pricing in a remarkably calm way, considering all the uproar in the app markets over quickly-falling prices and a race to the bottom. Essentially, he deleted the free version of Instapaper, talks about what happened when he did that, and the effects of supporting two versions of the same app upon his income. Most interestingly, he discusses why he’s not planning a version of Instapaper for the Android Marketplace.