Why I won't spend money on the App store

Don Reisinger won't spend any money in the Apple App store. Will you?

Now that Apple has officially launched the App Store, everyone seems excited about the possibility of expanding the functionality of their favorite cell phone and doing more with the same old hardware. I can't fault them for feeling that way, but I don't see any reason to spend money on it.

Undoubtedly, Steve Jobs will come out in January at Macworld and discuss how well the App Store is performing, thanks to strong iPhone app sales and even a few iPod touch sales thrown in for good measure. He'll discuss the benefits of using the App store and why we should all buy up "some of the best applications in the world."

It makes sense -- Apple has a vested interest in the success of the App store and certainly wants to see you buy more software than download for free because it gets a piece of the pie on all profits.

But as for me, I don't see any reason to spend money in the App store and I definitely won't. It's not that I'm protesting anything or trying to stand my ground, it's just that I think there will be so many great free apps in the store that I won't even need to worry about paying for software.

It may sound a bit radical, but trust me, I don't think you'll be spending too much money in there either.

Right now, there are two major forces at work: first, some apps in the store are ridiculously overpriced. $14.99 for iTrans NYC, an application that lets me search and locate different stops in the New York City subway? Please.

Secondly, the variety of titles in the App store and the relative ease of developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, make it a hot spot for developers of all sizes to create compelling applications at any cost.

And it's that ability for anyone to create applications for the App store that I see the greatest opportunity for us to stop spending and enjoy great apps for free.

The way I see it, the App store will start out as a veritable treasure trove of interesting software with crazy quirks and ridiculous prices. After that, it'll be flooded with free applications that try to improve on the issues with paid software and deliver a few new features too.

Once that happens, major sites like CNET and Engadget will be flooded with features that tell you what the best free apps on the App store are and slowly but surely, they will start to supplant paid apps as the most popular. Once that happens, developers looking to turn a profit will be forced to drop their prices to better compete with freeware, and in the process, create a more level playing field.

As soon as that happens, no one will find any reason to spend money on the App store.

Now, I realize that my thesis puts quite a bit of trust into independent developers that are trying to better the community's experience and not line their pockets, but I'm a firm believer that there are a slew of people like that in the world and more often than not, the really great apps aren't made by major developers, but by those individuals that find problems and want to make things easier for themselves and everyone else.

If there's one thing I don't like to do, it's spend money on applications that can be improved upon (for free) elsewhere. With that in mind, I simply don't know how I can justify spending cash on the 75 percent of the applications currently in the App Store that require a payment.

I not only believe in the value of free applications, but also the value of developers that create applications for free because they've found flaws in the over-priced products of greed.

Say what you will, but I'm not wasting my money on App store applications. Instead, I'll dedicate my time to enjoying all the free applications that will surely eclipse shareware on value and ease of use.

Want to know what Don is up to? Follow him on Twitter and FriendFeed.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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