One of the things that keeps me busy and excited for years is creating and shipping products related to mobiles and mobile apps. I was making tools for it, coding and managing mobile apps (the top one has hundreds of thousands of downloads, hopefully some official milestone news will be published soon). Coding mobile apps in Qt/QML is also one of my hobbies (at the moment Jolla Sailfish OS is the best platform for it though coming Ubuntu phones might be able to change it), I have created a number of popular apps for Jolla, yet.. the lack of even minimal commercial ecosystem for 3rd parties was always a pity for me.
Can paid apps harm the app ecosystem?
I can understand why Jolla as a company isn’t so much keen on introducing paid apps too soon (to my memory introducing paid apps in 2014 is actually the only Jolla’s semi-public target that was not met). You know even if you assume that there are some 80K Jolla users (very generous assumption as for me) and even 10% of them decide to pay for a super useful app some 5 euros out of which Jolla will take just 30% for processing (again impossibly generous assumptions), that would make 80K * 10% * 5 * 70% = 28K euros. Not per month, but per app life. For one super useful app that probably took months to develop. Real monthly numbers for the few top tier apps would probably be around a couple of hundreds max and just dozens of euros a month for the 2nd tier apps. That’s not much of a monetary carrot and without extra support by some developer program (that might be coming) monetary motivation isn’t likely to justify spending time on Jolla even for your girlfriend, wife or husband.
Paid content and services over the paid apps
What if there was some other area where you could do something really cool and welcome for Jolla, spend less effort on it, do it in such a way that it could be reusable on other platforms as well and earn even more money with it? Well, despite all the buzz mobile apps bring only a tiny slice of the mobile data revenue. Majority of money comes from messaging and various types of value adding services such as videos, ringtones, wallpapers.
Customizing the device
I played with the idea of customizing home screen both automatically and manually. My Daily Wallpaper for Nokia N9 enjoyed dozens of thousands of downloads while being a free app (quite a number for the tiny number of N9 sales) and hundreds of purchases when switched to the paid mode. Daily Ambience Beta for Jolla also generated quite a bit of interest and there are already Jolla fans who exchange ambiences via Dropbox, FTP servers and sharing websites just for the fun of seeing the other people excited by the art of yours.
Meet the new project: Ambience Store. It is going to be just a.. well, an ambience store, limited to just wallpapers for start where you can look for the new, most popular and fun ambiences and get them for free or purchase some. Artists will get a platform for sharing the art with the world and for getting a bit of money for it too.
The project is in its infancy for now, there is only an Alpha version of the client app, pretty much for just gauging the interest and a single page website for the same. As I believe doing something like Ambience Store is what’s quite appropriate for Jolla company itself, I am trying not to devote too much effort on it before figuring that in-app purchases are indeed likely to be possible and Jolla company isn’t likely to release an own ambience store two days after this one is launched. Yet I still love the idea so some progress is likely to happen anyway.
If you find the project interesting and would like to support it, the best thing you could besides subscribing to updates do is to ask Jolla’s marketing-business side to talk about a possible collaboration or to go and vote for the in-app purchases on Jolla Together. If you feel really generous, you can also vote for these more technical items that will make Ambience Store happen easier and better.
What do you think?
Do you find the idea useful? Does it make sense to do the Ambience Store as a 3rd party service? Would you use it yourself as an artist or as just somebody who like trying new interesting ambiences?