Is $90 too much for an app? Not if you're Loren Brichter, Tweetie developer

If you believe the hype, Apple's new "tablet computer" — part-iPhone, part-laptop, part-TV — will revolutionize home computing, save the flagging media industry, and make you toast in the morning. I don't know about any of that. What does seem certain is that you'll want to load up the tablet with apps, just like you do with your iPhone. Okay, yes, Android phones and Blackberries have app stores too. But the iPhone now accounts for 60 percent of U.S. smartphone usage, and iPhone users spend an estimated $2.4 billion — yes, billion — a year on apps, according to AdMob (via GigaOm). All that, and newspapers haven't even started charging for content yet. So while the tablet promises to be an exciting piece of hardware, the business is all about the apps.

Not the free ones, either. While most apps are on the cheap side — the average customer spends about $5 per month on new bells and whistles — some are double-digit investments. Others have bizarre, sometimes maddening pricing schemes: when Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie, the iPhone's most popular social networking app, rolled out the 2.0 version of his software, the update wasn't free to people who had already paid for 1.0. Nope: even early adopters had to fork over $2.99 for the new-and-improved Tweetie.

Whatever, says Brichter, who told BundleHQ he thinks people should be willing to pay for apps they use. (He would say that, right?) He busted his typical $10/month app budget to buy a navigation app from Navigon ($90) and Wolfram Alpha's reference-on-steroids app ($50). "I love the stuff they're doing, and I want to support them," Brichter said. "Development is hard, and it makes sense to support hard work."

Next up, no doubt, is Tweetie for the Tablet — something else to pay for. Which raises the question, smartphone users: with apps ranging from free to cheap to really?!, how much is too much for you?




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