'The Elephant in the Room'

Samantha Bielefeld, writing on the aptly named Samantha Bielefeld about Marco Arment's recent post where he details his new monetization model in Overcast:

As one developer put it to me, it seems a bit tone deaf for him to even be trying to relate himself to the other individuals trying to create a revenue stream on the App Store. The typical programmer doesn't have a popular website with ad placements, or a successful podcast that earns them tens, and tens of thousands of dollars a year. I'm not knocking his success, he has put effort into his line of work, and has built his own life. He can afford to gamble the potential for Overcast to provide him income. But it most certainly is not the norm. Few app developers are able to enjoy the launch day success that comes from having major sites like iMore, Macworld, MacStories, and 9to5Mac all launch reviews of their app in unison on the day of release. The result is a chart topping, traffic driving experience that results in even more downloads than the people who follow his work would provide.

This is an excellent point, and something I don't think Marco is fully aware of. There's a purity to his outlook and reasoning that suggests a disconnect between what he knows based on his own experiences in his career, and what a lot of other hard working app developers experience. It's much easier to risk flying on a trapeze when there's a cushion waiting to catch you should you fall. Marco's cushion is pretty fucking big.

I don't fault Marco for his approach (though he could benefit from taking a moment to sit back and recognize how his circumstance is inherently different than others). He's taking advantage of the good situation he's built for himself. And after my conversation with my Limitless Adventure co-host, Charles, last night, I'm not entirely convinced that it's wrong. When filtered through a purely capitalistic perspective, this is how the market works. (Though, I must admit I can't help but feel slightly dirty when I consider supporting a stance that ultimately sullies the value of software.) If the reality of the current consumer entitlement behavior means that businesses can't be built solely on the foundation of a mobile application (regardless of its quality), then maybe it's time to revisit how that business is run. It's a shitty reality, one that I wish would magically dissolve and be replaced by something far more reasonable and fair, but, ultimately, this will force developers to get creative or perish. God, that sucks to write.

Personally, I'll keep supporting devs that deserve it. There are a lot of quality apps out there, and I truly believe they're worth paying for.