Monday, June 21, 2010

Ads in Free iPhone Apps

I'm still loving my iPhone, despite the extra expense each month. Of course, as I'd expected, they've introduced the iPhone 4 and dropped the price of the model I bought by $200, but the iPhone has been such a life-saver over the last 3 months, some of that money has probably been made up by not having to buy extra gas because of getting lost on road trips. I had no idea I'd end up using the Google Maps feature so much!

I've also been having fun playing a free Scrabble-like game with a friend of mine who lives across the country. I've always enjoyed word games, and it's a great way to stay connected. Especially since I'm pretty consistently slaughtering her. Anyway, the one downside to the game is how intrusive the ads are-- after every turn, they pop up and take over the whole screen for a second or two until I can manage to dismiss them, and there's always a bar across the bottom of the home screen with an ad. A couple of times, I've been very tempted to just click on the button that takes you to purchasing the ad-free version for $2.99. But then I keep holding back, telling myself to just suck it up and save the 3 bucks.

This is always my dilemma-- I know $3 is not a lot of money. But I guess I think it's good practice to say no to spending on any occasion where it's possible. So an ad flashes in front of my and wastes a second or two of my time, so what? As a general value and guideline for life, I want to be the kind of person who is willing to put up with a little inconvenience, who isn't a prima donna. This may be only a very small and insignificant way of asserting that value, but heck, why not just do it? It's not that I live a 100% spartan lifestyle where I always take the cheaper, more difficult option, but that's the point: every time you say no to spending, it allows you to say yes to something else in the future.

How do you feel about ad-supported apps? Are you willing to pay a few more dollars not to see ads?


CodingSlave said...

Depends on the kind of ads. If I notice that the ads are specifically targeted towards me or tempt me, I'll get rid of them in a hurry. The psychological factor of the ads is not be discounted and better to spend $3 and avoid the seduction of a $100 new-fangled gizmo.

Bankruptcy Ben said...

I think I can get all zen and block out adds on TV and Radio but there is something about pop up adds thats particularly freaking irritating.

emma c. jones said...

for the most part, i suck it up and deal with ads for the free versions of apps. but i just couldn't handle the words with friends apps. they are truly obnoxious. and since i went through a period of time where i used my phone more for words with friends than for anything else, i just bought the full version because having to constantly wait out ads was a waste of time.

but on the other hand, i adore this: "every time you say no to spending, it allows you to say yes to something else in the future." i will be remembering that one. :-)

priskill said...

Luddite walking, here -- no iphone, just a swell flip phone that was the bee's knees sometime late last century, when i often concealed it in the folds of my hoop skirt -- but i do hate ads that pop up to delay accessing my email account.

Delurking to say how much i have always enjoyed your blog, and to recommend online Boggle as another epic
time suck. I'm not very good and it is still addicting. Thanks for all the great reading!

U. Romilion said...

Great questions, Madame X, and ones that many of us are trying to answer for ourselves. For my part, I have a very pragmatic view of this - apparently not much diffrerent from yours: free apps with ads can be great as long as the ads don't totally spoil the usability of the app.

Some of the free ad-funded apps are perfectly fine to use (as you said it, a few seconds of lost time because of ads isn't that bad) while others are a total pain in the neck. Besides the number of ads and the time it takes to deal with them, a lot depends on the purpose of the app itself. If you always are in a rush when using the app - e.g. checking local transportation schedules and routing alternatives - the lost seconds feel like eternity, while in some other situations - especially in the case of games - you really don't mind an ad or two.

Also a lot depends on the price of the upgrade to ad-free. If the upgrade costs a lot (relative to the benefit you get from the app) and you don't get any useful extra features, the free ad-funded app will just have to do. In the opposite case, you might even be delighted to cough up a buck or a few to get rid of the ads, especially when the upgrade brings useful extra features.

Finally, for some of us the "style" question seems like a major factor in all this. Surprisingly many seem to think it's uncool or cheap to use free apps. A great example of this was the $1000 "I'm Rich" screensaver app´- I still can't believe a number people actually paid the thousands bucks to have it on their iPhones! For the rest of us, though, free screen savers - and many other free apps - will probably do just fine, even when they come with ads.

Brandon Shaw said...

I can tolerate the pop-up if it's the difference between $5 and free. I don't like to pay for apps at all.

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Unknown said...

I have a few free apps that I rarely use, and put up with the ads. I rarely search classifieds on my phone, so ads are no bother. However, a particular scrabble like game (that I tend to play in spurts) had ads that became too distracting when trying to take a few turns quickly in multiple games so I bought the full version.
As an aside, some "popular apps" make more money off the free version than paid because they only get paid once for the purchase...