Since the release of Informant 5.0 for iOS and the switch to the subscription pricing model we have done surveys and taken a lot of user feedback on the topic. We also deferred much of the pricing discussion until we had the app quality and functionality issues back to a level we felt comfortable. Now (as of July 27, 2017) we have over 1,000 reviews on the new Informant for iOS 5.2 and we have an average rating of 4.5 stars. We are pleased with that. However, of the 1069 reviews there are still a handful of reviews where we are receiving 1-2 stars and the topic most frequently cited is “Price”.
Pricing is a very important topic. By that I mean that it is a topic that must be considered very carefully. We must consider our target audience and and the needs of the business and make sure that we come up with a solution that works for both. Please know that we are doing just that and will continue to do that. Ultimately, our perspective is that “Price is a reflection of product value” and that Informant is a Premium product when you consider all the functionality and customization that it has. Let me say that another way. We want Informant to be “the” Premium Organization product, specifically design for people who are “serious about their organization“. Therefore, it should have price that reflects that value. We definitely want Informant to be an exceptional value (Price vs Quality) and do feel that $25/year is an exceptional value for such a power packed app. We also know that at that price it is not an exceptional value for EVERY one of our possible customer segments. (See this post about the 4 customer segments). Now, by putting a stake in the ground and saying that Informant is a “Power Organizer’s Power Tool” we risk alienating some people, and that is OK.
Summary: The majority of feedback we have received has been supportive of the $25/year (USD) price point. There are many customers agree that Informant provides well more than $25/year in value. So, short story, short answer: the price is going to stay, for now.
What about the people who think $25 is just too much?
We do have a plan… Here are 7 things that we are doing, or planning to do in order to accommodate more of the customers who would love to use Informant at a lower price.
- We plan to continue to have a Free version available. Although limited in total functionality, we feel like this is the most reasonable way to expose the app to as many people as possible. This allows for anyone to download the iOS version of the app and get a feel for it before paying.
- We are planning to enable longer & even periodic free trials so that anyone who wants to test the full version can do so. We want to give anyone that wants it, the chance to fall in love with the power of Informant. We realize it might take some people longer than others to fall in love.
- We want to provide incentives for loyal customers who share informant with their friends. We plan to introduce a “Give One, Get One” option that will allow existing users to share Informant with a friends by incentivizing both you and your friend with a free subscription. It is our hope that this strategy will help us achieve both our growth goals, and our customers “get it for free” goals. We have stubbed in this feature in the current 5.2 version behind the: Enjoying Informant >> Yes >> Share with a Friend buttons. (Note: This is not in its final state yet and may be pulled during development if we can’t keep up with the demand. I am curious to hear your thoughts in comments section about how much “free time” a single referral is worth.)
- Periodic Discounts: We will be offering periodic discounts and coupon codes for people who might be waiting for “just the right deal” to jump in to a full version of informant. These will be infrequent, and primarily made to people who like our Facebook page, or have signed up for trial accounts of Informant Sync.
- Consider Region or Country Specific Pricing. We are based in the U.S. That means we have the best feel for pricing here. It is possible that we may not understand the value of the app in some other countries and we might be best served by changing the pricing from country to country. We may consider lowering the price in certain markets to experiment if lower pricing would change the demand for the product.
- Create Bundled & UN-Bundled Options. We do know that our current pricing structure causes a bit of confusion sometimes, especially for people who want to buy all versions of our products. For example, buying from PocketInformant.com is kinda weird sometimes. We can do coupons from PocketInformant.com but can’t do coupons from iTunes. Mac is still 1x purchase, Informant Sync is subscription, We are planning to launch a new Informant Sync with Outlook Desktop that is a 1x purchase for part, but requires a subscription to Informant Sync. So, we know that this can cause some confusion and we do want to simplify it. We are interested in creating some options for people who want to just pay one price and have everything, and we also are interested in letting people just pay for what they need.
- Create Un-Bundled options. I have left this one as last because it is probably the last thing we would do, or would consider doing. Ultimately we want to have as many people as possible on Informant. If we get to a point where our subscription base of customers is solid and growing, we might consider un-bundling the iOS app from the Informant Sync subscription. Fair warning to anyone reading this, this will probably NOT happen until after we launch a web based interface for Informant? What, did I say web based interface? Yes, we are entertaining that again….See more about upcoming plans and road map here. Blog Post: Whats Next?
But what about those who just don’t like subscriptions? We have decided that subscription is the best way forward for us as a company. The simplest way for us to explain this decision is to point to the comments of Phil Schiller from apple in a recent interview, “I think for many developers, subscription model is a better way to, go than try to come up with a list of features, and different pricing for upgrade, versus for new customers.”
Lastly, I am sure that there are some cynical readers who will think that this is all just a game and “why don’t we just lower the price for everyone”. To that I will make this plea: We LOVE what we do (building & supporting Informant) . We are passionate about doing it. We would love to do it for free, but our spouses would all make us go get a real job so we can pay the bills. We ARE running a business here. We need to pay the bills. I think most of the people reading this realize that companies need to make money and usually at least a small profit to stick around. We are doing our best to make good decisions from pricing, to product management, to ensure that Informant stays at the forefront of our category in apps and that we can build a solid business here. We want to be your power organizer for a long time to come.
Please understand that the items here shared from the intent to provide you with some visibility in to our strategic direction and not all of the items listed may be available at this time, and some may not ever happen.
Please add your comments below. I am very curious to hear your feedback on the items above and will address each of the comments.
I know this blog is about 5.2 and pricing but I paid for the mac version for two years now and still haven’t seen version 1.0. I along with many others I’m sure are not happy about the slow progress of informant for mac but still paying a premium for a beta product.
I hear your frustration. It has not gone as fast as we wanted it to either…But, we will keep working on it until it is ready.
Chris is a stickler for getting things right. He doesn’t want to call it 1.0 (even though it probably could have been 1.0 months ago). To be clear, I respect Chris for that and think it is a very good thing.
We did just release another beta release on mac & it has our focus right now.
An average of 4.5 stars for an app which is still dreadful and so much worse than PI 4.9 is such a miracle that is seems very dodgy and suspicious
It beyond suspicious, Gennaro.
Informant star rating changed from 2.5 to 4.5 stars basically overnight.
If you scroll through actual reviews, you’ll MORE negative 1-2 star reviews then positive ones. I think it’s a combination of Apple changing algorithm of how they assign stars combine with some trickery.
Well said, Gennaro & bremin001.
A small preface: I subscribe to Informant Sync (versus subscribing to Informant ios) and this impacts my perspective on what exactly I am paying for.
The biggest reason I am OK with the $25/year subscription is I consider it to include Informant ios and Informan mac AND future apps (web interface, etc…).
In other words, the big reason I am NOT ok with $25/year is that it is now the baseline cost. If it goes up as applications are added to the “package” that would be a problem. My big fear is that after Mac Informant is done, the price may go up.
With that said, paying a one-time price to add an app to the “package” is fine. For example, I paid a one-time purchase price for man Informant and now it is included—with Informant ios—in the subscription so it will get forever updates.
Personally, I do not care much for any hoops to jump thru to get deals. Those are rarely worth it to me. I just want a good price for a solution that works really, really well. Informant is becoming a great solution and $25/year is good price for maintaining all the apps that are part of the solution.
I paid the $25 and will again next year if 5.x can get to 4.x’s level of functionality. There are some inexplicable steps backward (longer workflows for common data entry tasks). So much so that I still open 4.94 more than 5.2 to enter tasks or appointments.
We just released 5.3 did you download it yet? I’d be curious to hear what specifically you like better in 4 vs. 5.
“Price is a reflection of Value” is nice and sounds good, but at the end it is all about maximize the return on your product. I never got the feeling that PI under Alex was having financial problems but you probably thought you could do better. If you had a “crystal ball” you could test some “What-if” escenarios to be sure how to accomplish that, but well …there is not “crystal ball”. Time will tell if your strategy works or fails.
But I think you need to implement your current strategy in a clear and consistent manner and see where it goes. For example, if you go to your reply to “mehill” (July 27) in the “Informant 5.2 Release Notes” blog basically “mehill” was asking if “we can pay $25 and own the full app forever” and your answer was “Yes”. Then you get to the same “expecting to pay once and get app updates for ever” that you find (and I agree) problematic.
For what it is worth I think a yearly subscription price may be a good alternative but with a much lower price . This is for the application itself (subscription for sync could be separate). This would allow you to get most people into the new subscription schema, and as the product gets better you could increase price progressively. Instead you now get lots of negative feedback from customers used to pay a lot less of $25 to own the app, and get years of free updates.
Just add more premium features, most people can afford $25 a year. But people will compare it with the product asking for similar money, such as Evernote
Well, I no longer qualify as a Premium customer. Perhaps Pocket Informant no longer wants me, which is fine, just as I no longer want to pay $35.99 / year (pricing in Australia). Was happy paying $15.00 for sync capabilities, but will not renew in August.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a great product, but without customers…..
We DO want you as a customer. Please check the pricing in AUS. Is it still $35.99? I think we made some adjustments there.
I have already paid your company a hefty price for running the software on mac, iPhone and iPad and as I am not interested in the ability to sync to products I don’t use I won’t move to a subscription based pricing model. Nor is weather much use to semoneone who has several weather apps that give me all the information and alerts I need.
The flaw in you argument about value is that you don’t determine value, your customer does. Value is perceived from weighing up cost vs benefit and for me there is zero value from being able to sync to services I don’t use.
Thanks for your comments. As you mentioned in your reply there are many different customer types that are using Informant. In this post: http://staging.pocketinformant.com/thoughts-on-pricing/ We made an attempt to categorize the user types and to provide some insights into where we plan to focus our efforts.
You are right, about customers determining value. I’m curious to know which of the 4 categories you consider yourself in. Or is there one we missed?
With all due respect, are you trying. to convince us or yourselves of the value of your product? You Mac version is late and at last check still missing features promised. You are not in front of your game, there are very good apps out there, some I think are better. The place I’m at right now is deciding where to invest my money.
Premium products don’t miss deadlines, they don’t get pushed back by not delivering on their pledges. You are trying to be all things and are missing on the fundamentals. In 2015-early 2016 your product made more sense, now Apple has released one OS update and soon a second, and the built in features of the apps and the interoperability have improved. What is it that you are bringing that is premium? Why do I want another syncing system and why do I trust you with my info? Frankly, for my needs iOS is becoming the dominate OS that handles my calendar and contacts and my Mac is reserved for only the very heaviest of lifting.
I removed your apps from my devices when they started misbehaving or were replaced by apps that worked better. Your Mac app didn’t scroll properly for me for months and was unusable, its not on my machine.
It’s not up to us, the customers to give anything anymore. It is time for your group to deliver and give the time it took, it better be better than right. Everyone who have invested in a app that isn’t complete and with no end in sight deserves more that premium statements in bold type. Premium products that demand a premium price arrive as promised and with features and support unmatched elsewhere. I’m not going to name names, but I have a calendar/organizer that I don’t even begin to use all the features, but I cant live without it because it works better than anything out there and I paid a lot of money to have both the Mac and iOS versions. They sync for free and allow me to sync more than their products. They give great value for their cost. In reality, they aren’t syncing my products for free, I’m paying for it with the premium fees I pay for major upgrades. And while I sometimes complain about their prices, more often I’m begging them to take my money.
Before telling us why your subscription is a good deal, deliver full products as promised, show us you are on your game. If you succeed you won’t have to beg in a blog for money.
First of all, thank you for the passionate reply. I know that people who “don’t care” just don’t write that kind of detailed comment so you must care deeply about Informant.
Why is Informant a premium product?
-Calendar & Tasks combined in a single app. Apple still doesn’t do that. You can’t view your reminders ON your calendar.
-Projects. Our projects are 100x better than apple reminders.
-30 Day calendar view. 100x better than apple’s 30 day view.
-Stacked week view. Apple doesn’t have anything like it.
Look, we love Apple. We pay $3000+ for laptops and now $1000 for an iPhone X. So when you say you are getting your iCloud products for free, don’t kid yourself. You are paying Apple plenty.
Have you heard the saying “If you aren’t paying for the product, You ARE the product?” If you are getting something for free, chances are they are either selling your information, or getting in your pocket some other way. (I’m not suggesting Apple is selling your info, but there are others who will & do.)
Other differences: We are a small business. Apple is the worlds biggest company.
Why would someone want to pay us? Because they like to support small business.
Why would you go to that nice little local restaurant when you can get cheaper food at McDonalds?
In my opinion, Life is not always JUST about the price. Especially when we are talking about $25/year.
One more things… Do you think Tim Cook would take 15 minutes to write a reply to your ranting email about his calendar? Probably not… With Informant, you get to converse with the CEO. Maybe that is worth something to you. Maybe not (I realize that I usually have to pay people to have them listen to me, and I am no Tim Cook).
Anyway… I hope that gives you a few REAL answers to your questions and makes you think just a little bit harder about spending $25/year with us. We would appreciate it if you do and you would be supporting small local business.
I found a $5.00 discount coupon for Sync on the internet. I used it and got the full blown PI 5.2 for iOS for $20. I think that it is well worth $1.66/month for all its functionality. Thanks!
Thank you for your kind words and your appreciation. We’ll bend over backwards for you!
Comments like this really make my day!
I did the same thing, plus I purchased Informant Sync for Outlook, which supposedly extends my subscription an additional year and I end owning the app no matter what, or at least this is my understanding.
You drawn your line in the sand and your customers will have to deal with it. For now, I am OK with this approach and I have tried to manage it to my advantage as much as possible. But that being said, I think the best approach is a flat fee to buy the application and a menu of sync subscriptions, so users can choose the best way to network the application that best fits their needs. That may not be possible, but that is my view nonetheless.
I think your assumption is incorrect.
If the information in Keith’s post from a couple of months ago is still valid, you will NOT own Informant 5 at the end of 1-year if you purchased Informant Sync. We were told (in this blog) that the “Own It” option was ONLY available with purchase of the 1-year subscription from the App Store.
You have you opinion and I have mine, as I clearly stated. Thanks for your input.
Sadly seeing this confirms I will have to walk away from using PI. As a user since the early days of dell axim and willingly purchases different versions over the years for updates as well as when I changed devices from Axim line to blackberry to android to iOS, I just can’t get behind the subscription service of this app for my needs. I am not a power user, I just use my calendar to keep track of my appointments. I always enjoyed the icon feature and the notes option within the app but I am not going to be forced into paying for sync services I don’t need for an app that while I like it, I do not NEED it or feel it is the best ever. I have always supported it and promoted it but since the change in ownership I see a shift in how the product is going and I have been holding out hope after previous discussions and surveys that there would be an option to purchase the app and not the sync features that are part of the motivation for the subscription. I understand completely that the company can make the choice that works for them and subscription seems to be that choice. But I can also choose to look elsewhere or just use the built in options. PI was always a luxury app for me because I didn’t NEED it to organize myself but I choose to keep supporting it as I changed platforms because I enjoyed it. I don’t enjoy subscription and I don’t enjoy paying $25 for an app to support the use of services it offers that i don’t want/need to use. I miss my colors, my icons and my notes right there but I can adapt else where. Its been fun and I hope this works out because it has been an app I loved for years but for now, I will use my previous version as is until it no longer works and then walk away. I may still hope an option presents itself in the future, but I won’t be expecting it.
I’m with you, swcolleen. Started using PI on my PalmPilot and have been with it ever since (iPhone & iPad).
Keith ‘s statement “the price is going to stay, for now.” is appreciated for clarity, but not what I hoped for. After all those discussion and the questionnaires I hoped for something better (i.e. more realistic), but it’s his right to stick to the pricing.
Deleted PI and sadly moving on.
So where am I now? I have 4.94 with a subscription for Premium PAck + Informant Sync that runs out next June. Do I have Informant 5? What happens next year?
If you have a subscription that includes Informant Sync, you should be able to download Informant 5 for no additional cost. Put your Informant Sync credentials in the Account Setup area & I5 will be unlocked.
How cool is that!
I think that you should let gmorgan know of the “uncool” fact that when when his Informant Sync subscription runs out next June, unless he renews his subscription, he will loose almost all the functionality of Informant 5.
It behooves you to let your users know of the difference between purchasing the App for $24.99 on the App Store and paying the same price for Informant Sync on pocket informant.com.
Only now has Informant 5 reached the level which you touted last year (November launch). Releasable.
The thought of a product price reflecting product value is a fair stance. Unfortunately that’s NOT what you provided for the months between November 2016-July 2017
You charged for a Corvette and what we got was an Edsel.
You don’t account for the product we endured for 8 months. It WASN’T premium class.
No parent wants to believe their baby was ugly. But…
An interesting post (& comments) on subscription-based Apps https://9to5mac.com/2017/08/16/opinion-subscription-based-apps-future-implode/
Keith, you must be so busy working on your “conspiracy blog” that you have had the time to educate future customers and renewing users on the important difference between purchasing Informant 5 with an annual subscription at the App Store, and Informant Sync on your website.
I was happy to purchase PI V4 as a Pro user and have ‘simple’ syncing (sync to Google calendar specifically) as part of the deal and I have found value in paying the inflated $$$ for living in Australia where your $25 turns very quickly into $36. If a new version comes along WITH IMPROVEMENTS (I am yet to see anything better in V5 to warrant an upgrade at the $$$$ you are asking considering I will lose functionality) I would be happy to part with the $$$ knowing that it is a once off purchase for this version.
That being said, what was wrong with the old model where if I wanted more sync options which required the services of your servers, I paid for it? I don’t want to use this on a Mac, I don’t want to sync with other applications, I just want to sync with Google calendar……..
As for suggesting improvements………why do you wipe all of the vote from V4 suggestions and get people to start voting again?
‘Drag and drop’ task sorting was suggested in V4 and had over 300 votes. V5 comes along and you ignore all of the previous votes without implementing the idea…and yes, I have re-posted the suggestion.
Will you wipe out all of the current votes when V6 comes along?
Lots to comment on there, so forgive me if I miss something…
Pricing, is it really $36 in AUS? I think we made some adjustments there. Please confirm.
The old pricing model was not working for us and created too much peaks and valleys in revenues. It is too hard to keep a staff if you can pay them in December, but not in May (just as an example). The subscription model create more stable cashflows for the company and we do believe it creates a better experience for customers because we can consistantly deliver new updates. We have delivered 8 updates in less than 10 months…. that is quite a bit..
voting on drag drop. It is in the voting, AND it is near the top of our lists. It is not forgotten.
No plans to delete votes in the future.
Thanks for your comments.