Upgrades and Sustainability

It’s sad news to hear that InstaCast will be no more. Sad because it was my favorite podcast app and because it’s a grim sign for indie development on iOS.

Why did this happen? I don’t know. Other podcast apps are apparently doing well. So maybe they just got run over by the competition? That’s probably it.

On the other hand, they had, at one time, a very popular app and a large user base. It’s made me really wonder why it’s so hard to keep a popular app going on iOS?

On other platforms revenue from upgrading a popular app is often larger than the initial launch. Sometimes much larger. Building a popular app is tough. Getting to 2.0 is tougher. But when it happens it’s a glorious thing. Obviously for revenue, but also for users: it ensures that the best apps evolve and mature with the platform.

When iOS was getting underway I often heard, “What about upgrades?” The answer was often, “Just give them away. It will bring more users. There are so many users it won’t matter.” At the time is seemed odd, but almost believable. I’m not so sure anymore.

There’s always that one moment of clarity when a bubble pops; when one huge poor assumption is laid bare and exposed as the obvious folly that it truly is. I’m not sure, but I’m starting to think that indie sustainability and upgrade revenue are tied together.