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Building an iPad photo app, how to engage & monetize?

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I'm working on a photo manipulation app similar to other collage and scrapbooking services out there. Basically the user can add their photos to the scene and do stuff with them, for example put them into shapes, add decorations, etc.

I definitely want it to be free to download, and I was thinking of using a credit system to let users purchase various types of shapes and graphics sets to spruce up their photos.

So ideally they would buy say 20 credits for $4.99 or something, and redeem each credit for the shape or graphics they want to use. Do you think users are willing to do this? Or am I better off selling off a premium full version "unlock" where they can purhase the other half of the content?
initiated Mar 9, 2012 in Business Models by Cory L (200 points)   1 2 3

3 Responses

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The credits system works better. This is both from experience (we have a freemium photo app in the store), and analysis of what the giants are doing (Words with Friends, for example).
response added Mar 10, 2012 by Gene Linetsky (160 points)   1 1
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I think it may depend quite a bit on the specifics of the app as well and what you're offering, but I think a credit system might be more interesting.  The thing that is always tricky is that in either model discussed above, you may have incentives to make the app itself not that good *unless* people buy -- and I think that's a huge risk.  The free app has to be really useful on its own.

Valve has talked about how they set up Team Fortress 2 as a free app with in game purchases, and one thing they were careful to do was to make sure the game itself could be played entirely for free -- that you weren't forced to sacrifice the overall game if you wanted to play for free, but that paying was more of a convenience/speed things along/cosmetic improvements, etc.  That is, they made sure the free product was actually worth it.

I know that I was just playing around with a game that was free to download, but then had a credit system to purchase certain items in the game... and if you didn't buy credits the game effectively becomes unplayable.  However, there wasn't enough game play for me to feel comfortable giving them any money, and the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way.

So the trick is to make an app that really is useful for free, but then has reasonable advantages for paying, without falling for the temptation of making the free version bad or annoying.  It's a fine line.

I might also explore other monetization options as well.  I don't know enough about your app, but are there tie-ups you can do with print shops?  Could you build in advertising in some form?  etc.
response added Mar 11, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
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How about looking at something like Pwinty ( )

You could offer your users the chance to buy prints/posters of their collages and scrapbooks - there's generally a pretty big margin you can make on this sort of thing, and you don't need to sell many to bring in a decent amount of money

response added Mar 20, 2012 by Tom Gallard (140 points)   1 1

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