Eucalyptus for iPhone: The Strangeness of App Pricing Psychology

Screenshot courtesy of Things Made Out of Other Things

You’ve probably read the various reports about Apple rejecting and then accepting the iPhone ebook reader app…

Eucalyptus – the library, to go (iTunes App Store)

…because of the content you can read on it (nothing to do with the app itself). The app takes electronic text transcribed for the Gutenberg Project and provides an easy way to sort, select and read these books on an iPhone. You can read the developer’s account of what happened in this blog entry…

Hither Eucalyptus!

But, that’s not what I’m writing about here. My topic here is my reaction to seeing the app’s $9.99 price. My first reaction was, “Woah! That is expensive”. My next reaction was, “What am I saying?” If someone had told me that there was a $9.99 app for Windows Mobile smartphones that made reading the raw Gutenberg Project book e-texts simple to read there, I would have thought it was a good deal for that price. But, I’ve become to spoiled by thinking that all iPhone apps are between free and $2.99, that I recoiled at the $9.99 price point.

We’ll definitely see a lot of interesting pricing experiments for iPhone apps going forward. It doesn’t look like premium prices are in customers’ comfort zone yet though. SlingPlayer for iPhone was recently released for $29.99. It shot to the top of the iPhone paid apps list but has disappeared from the top paid apps in the Entertainment category. So, it looks like the customer base for that app is saturated already at $29.99.

The most expensive app in the overall Top Paid Apps list right now is Peggle at $4.99. Myst pops up at #19 for $5.99. Resident Evil: Degeneration shows up at #29 for $6.99. And it is at this point in the Top Paid Apps list that we start seeing apps at $4.99 or more show up a bit more frequently. iPhone app buyers still appear to be very price concious (I know I am).

Eucalyptus product page