Great write-up. I think part of the issue is that most established meditation communities are too distributed to produce a good mobile product. Typically you have a lot of individual meditation centers which are spiritually connected, but not administratively connected, which means that it’s difficult for them to come together to launch a mobile product which interfaces well with their in-person offerings. That’s the circle we’ve been trying to square with the Shambhala Meditation App. Working with an institution has been great because you get to tie in to the physical and human resource of that institution, but it’s challenging because you need to get a lot of stakeholders on board, and there’s less uptake from mobile users who are uninterested in churches. It seems like the other option is to build an in-person community from a digital experience, but that’s probably harder.
The other thing I’ve learned from this project is that it’s important to pick a financial model which makes generosity easy. This is why we eventually went with subscriptions, because we found it technically much easier to give people in financial need free subscriptions than it is comp downloads through the app/play store. This model is problematic for a lot of the reasons you’ve mentioned, but it does make it much easier to give content away IMO.