Mobile Software Pricing Sucks

By Deane Barker on March 12, 2007

What’s up with the software pricing model on mobile devices? More specifically, how come vendors are pricing software by the month?

I just got a new Sanyo Katana, and there are some demo games loaded on it. One of them is a nifty little pool game — Midnight Pool. It’s pretty fun, and the kids really like it, so it’s a great way to keep one of them occupied for a while if the need arises.

But, this game doesn’t have a lot of depth and it’s on a tiny screen, so the playing experience ain’t spectacular. If this was packaged software on the shelf, I’d pay maybe $15 for it, at the most.

But the pricing offered: $4 per month. Seriously. First, no — it’s not worth that. Second, why the per-month pricing? Why are we suddenly renting software? I object to the word “buy” that they throw at you — if I’m paying per-month for something, I’m not “buying” it.

I just went to the vendor’s site and the pricing there is “$4.99*”. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find an asterisk anywhere on the page. I bet it says something like “pricing is by the month.” Doorknobs.

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  1. Because they can.

    Have you tried writing software for the mobile phone lately? By keeping “homemade” mobile software to a minimum (or nonexistant), companies maintain an artificial scarcity, which allows them to charge whatever price the market will bear without worrying about losing customers to a competitor.

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