App Developers and the “M” Word

Pushbullet Payment Options

No, not Marshmallow… monetization.

Almost two weeks ago to the day Pushbullet decided to go pro. This clever system for mirroring Android notifications on a desktop computer—one part Android app and one part browser extension—had become invaluable to me as a means to administer SMS from my desk. And wouldn’t you know it, within a week after the new pro tier was announced this feature suddenly and suspiciously became unreliable.

I’m pretty certain it’s because the “added functionality” of Pushbullet Pro includes stuff that users were previously getting for free. That’s mistake number one.

Mistake number two is Pushbullet’s pricing. A redditor asked their fellow r/Android subscribers how much they’d be willing to pay for Pushbullet Pro. The top-voted answer? $1/month, a fifth of what the developers are asking month-to-month users for.

Clearly Pushbullet’s monetization scheme hasn’t gone over well with users. Someone from the company took to r/Android for an AMA and found little sympathy there. A typical comment:

You should fire the marketing moron who sold you on your current business plan.

All you had to do was offer a one week period where the yearly subscription was $12.

It would have solved reddit complaints, you would have positive cash flow and you wouldn’t be losing anything, especially since you believe these same people would have stuck with the free service.

You could have announced it here, but you never once thought about the backlash or your loyal user base. You only cared about that marketing idiot who made you a chart that showed $5/month times some made up % of existing users = $$$$

Now, another popular reddit thread aims to provide an exhaustive list of Pushbullet alternatives. I myself am currently making do with AirDroid. It does require a manual link between computer and desktop. Then again it’s also free.

There’s definitely a lesson here for app developers. The Pushbullet team either vastly overestimated what their app was worth, or forgot that their users also have other paid services to shell out for. It was probably some combination of both. I don’t think early adopters and/or loyal users are at all out of line asking for a discount; much better to make those users happy than having them dump your app en masse.

Sources: Android Police, reddit (1) (2) (3)

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