You Get What You Pay For

This MacWorld article is a couple of weeks old, but it's very relevant to the free vs. paid services debate that I invoked a while back. I've long been an advocate of paying for software wherever possible, whether it's by choosing affordably-priced indie applications rather than using unlicensed copies of their big entrenched rivals, by paying for critical software services, or by choosing paid Apps over ad-supported ones.

When it comes to iOS apps I think it's even more essential to pay for the stuff we use. We're incredibly fortunate to be using a platform that's attracted outstanding developers from the outset, and that's largely down to their ability to get paid for their considerable efforts. It pains me to see how many people in the so-called creative industries—who fully expect to be paid for their own work and are very sensitive to copyright infringement—simply refuse to pay for apps that they use every day. If we wouldn't work for free, why expect software developers to do it?

Somehow we've managed to convince ourselves that quality apps should be free or nearly-free. We pay £2.50 for coffee, yet baulk at paying the same for a productivity app that we use twice a day. Anyone who grew up using desktop software that cost upwards of $150 a license, or even paying shareware fees of $20, knows that, rationally, this doesn't make sense. Yet we continue to look for free, "me-too" alternatives to well-thought-out original apps. If we keep doing this, the originals won't get funded, and there'll be nothing for the me-too developers to copy (and monetise through intrusive ads or sleazy in-app purchases).

There are good reasons that we get great apps on iOS first (or exclusively), but if we don't pay developers for their work then that won't always be the case. If you pay your phone carrier upwards of £25 a month for an essentially commodified service, shouldn't paying 10-20% of that for the apps you need be a reasonable proposition?

I say we all take a look at the 3 ad-supported or free apps we use most often, and see if there's a way of paying to remove ads or get the exa features. Spend ten bucks or so this week, and then budget the same each month to make sure you're using the best stuff out there. Be the person that encourages creative people to keep doing what they do best, not the person who contributes to them giving up. Your productivity will benefit, and you'll feel great doing it too.