Marco Arment Advocates Freeware Pricing While Critics Question Cost
Marco Arment, developer of podcast app Overcast, is advocating that developers give their apps away for free and rely on donations from users — but critics say his move is encouraging users to expect software at no cost.
Overcast 2, an update to the world’s most somewhat popular podcast app for iOS, is available for free with no limitations. Users can donate to the millionaire, and the funds go directly into an enormous money bag Arment is weaving out of goat hair.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for me,” said Arment between long glances at the Private Parts poster on his wall. “Every week, I can advertise Overcast on my podcast with John Siracusa and that one guy. Best of all, users get all the features for free, and if they chip in a few dollars, they have the good feeling of helping Marco. Hang on, Marco has to take this call. Talk to me, Phil-Shay.”
Developers Speak Out
Arment’s donationware model has been met with resistance from critics who are too lazy to start a blog or get acquired by Yahoo. “How can any of us compete with a free app from someone as well-known as Marco Arment?” asked Devon Riley, developer of something nobody’s heard of. “He’s putting pressure on all of us to release our best work for free and hope for the best. I have multiplayer gaming subscriptions to support.”
Amy Stroggins, creator of a game we’ve never played, voiced similar concerns on an anonymous blog that was secretly run by Arment to harvest names for his homebuilt Wall of Losers exhibit. “Users are now demanding that I price my game at 99 cents and release free updates forever. When I told them I’m trying to make a living, they mailed two tons of glitter to my apartment with the threat of more unless I released a formal apology for swindling users, corrupting games journalism, and existing.”
Wamarco, Arment’s life-long nemesis and developer of Instaphlegm, delivered a 24-page handwritten manifesto with references to the “real rulers” of the app store.
Responding To The Backlash
On Thursday, Arment took to social media to strike back. “Anyone can do what I’m doing. People always say, ‘That’s a great idea — for Marco!’ You know what? It’s not my fault you went out and got poor.” Between shots of bourbon, a loaded Arment spent the rest of the night insisting to a cracked dressing mirror that he was still “cool” and “indie.”
Radiohead, which faced similar criticisms in 2007 when it released Picking Scabs Like Feathers of Delight as a pay-what-you-want album, put out a statement in support of Arment, calling their past critics “lazy artists who chose not to be born sooner and have a 20 year career that lets them make a living off of donations.” Radiohead went on to sell full price albums again after their little Communist experiment.
For Arment, whose business model seeks to tap his large following for donors, the support is encouraging. “The patronage model is working for me, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for anyone else,” he said as he cleaned a gold-plated Colt pistol with a toothbrush. “People who are complaining aren’t working. Any time not spent working every second of every day of your life is an invalidation of your argument about my pricing model.”
Revenue Expected To Remain A Struggle
The struggle for revenue is a hot topic among app developers. Experts predict that less than one in every 10,000 apps will make money by 2018, with as much as 95% available for free. Apple’s “Top Grossing” chart was intended to encourage premium pricing but is now dominated by games with in-app purchases. Last June, developers met with Apple in San Francisco to participate in a funeral procession mourning the death of the app store. Woe to the developer who calls evil good and good evil, who puts darkness for light and light for darkness, who puts bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
For Arment, the future is friggin’ roses. “I expect my revenue to go up and my marketshare to increase,” said Arment as he shaved goats in his goat farm, beneath a New England style sign that read Marco’s Dope Show. “I’ve done this before. I know how this works. If you’re worried I’m ruining it for everyone else, you should shut that hole under your nose and get to work on an even better app you can give away for free.”
When asked for comment, an Apple spokeperson replied, “Apple doesn’t talk about upstart products we may Sherlock.”