October 6, 2009
CNN’s new iPhone app is creating quite a stir. First of all, they’re the first major news site to have a paid app ($1.99). Secondly, they’ve included ads in it. Users are quite in an uproar over this. They wouldn’t pay for something with ads in it! Yet, what about newspapers, magazines, television, and increasingly games? We constantly pay for media that includes ads, and we don’t even think twice about it.
So why the fuss about this app? CNN is actually following an old publishing model — charge a small fee and include ads. The main reason is they’re violating the expectations currently on the App Store that free apps can include ads, but paid apps should not.
Does $.99 or even $1.99 a pop really allow developers, media outlets, or anyone else to produce a quality product? If you want developers and publishers to put hard work into not only making a good app, but also constantly updating it they might need more than a one time fee of one or two bucks. They need an alternative revenue stream which can be provided by a subscription fee (which users hate) or ads. CNN explains their decision to include ads as a way to ensure they can continue to deliver a premium experience.
My question to you is, wouldn’t you rather occasionally see an ad in your app than have the quality go down? What is the fair price of an iPhone app and how do we judge what we are owed after we give an iPhone developer our hard earned dollar?