What is “Freemium”?

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 4.48.31 PMOn this blog, I occasionally highlight apps of interest, and when I do I always try to share information about the price or, even better, announce that it is free.

But lately many apps have adopted a new business model with a more pay-as-you-go approach, and therefore a new descriptive word has evolved.

Since I know I’ll be using this word on this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to explain it, now.

And that word? Freemium.

Let’s back up a bit. When apps first appeared in the iTunes store, you basically had two kinds: Free or Pay-for-it. Free might be the whole game, for example, but with pesky ads. If you could ignore those ads-on-the-edges you would have a pretty good deal. If my memory serves me correctly, the original Paper Toss was that kind of game. I downloaded the free version at first, but I remember finding the ads so annoying that I eventually spent 99¢ for the opportunity to enjoy the game ad-free. (That is precisely what the developers hope will happen, because that is how they make their money.)

Other apps offer you a limited version of the app for free. Just a teaser. Many Photo-apps were originally created like that, giving you just a few features to try out. And then, if you liked it, you could pay for the app and get the full version. The Premium version.

But gradually a new model has evolved, the Freemium. Many of the top-selling games in the Apple Store are freemium games.

The Freemium App gives you the product for free. BUT, as you play or work with the app there are various opportunities offered for upgrades, more time or other extras, and it is these in-app purchases where the developers want you to spend the $$.

And so, if you want the premium app, you’ll download it for free, and then pay as you go. That’s premium + free = freemium.

Critics of this model are many. (I’m counting myself among them) Personally, I would prefer the opportunity up-front to buy the app, the WHOLE COMPLETE app….. or not.

You can read more about this developing model by clicking any of the following links:

Wikipedia: Freemium

Freemium Is Irresistable, Even For Successful Game Companies

Most freemium mobile game high-rollers happy with their spending

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