I face stern expressions when I tell someone about some cool apps I bought recently. I don’t know how it works all over the world. So, for the benefit of this post, I’ll talk about the country I live in – India.
In India, there is a certain stigma against the idea of purchasing software. Especially apps which usually cost less than a cup of coffee or a Friday matinée and add relatively more value to the smartphone experience than that cup of coffee adds to the day. People just don’t see it as something normal or usual. In my opinion, these people are living in a time that has long passed.
It’s the very nature of software that makes people assume that it should ideally be free. Something inside a computer/phone you’ve already paid for makes anything inside it presumptuously free. That notion is however, wrong, uninformed and archaic.
In a digital world that is constantly evolving, your smartphone needs to stay up to date with the latest new thing it can do. There are people who work hard to create newer augmentations for your device. These people work for your benefit to add value to your experience so that you can get something done. If they do a good job and succeed in adding to your experience, they very well deserve the money.
A usual counter-argument would be that anyone who thinks buying apps is okay is free to do so without shouting about it. However, most people still use these apps only that they don’t pay for them. In other words, the average Indian wants those premium experiences but they want them for free and so they prove piracy with usual invalid arguments. The most common ones I’ve come across are:
Why should I pay for it if I can get it for free on so and so website?
To put it in perspective, it is safe to assume that an upstanding member of the society will never say – “Why should I pay for the piece of clothing I can very well try to steal from the store?” How does then that same logic justify the piracy of paid apps?
My card does not work on foreign stores and so I can’t pay for apps.
There are so many options to pay for apps now. Gift Cards – Physical and Electronic. The Google Play Store has offered Netbanking since early 2016. Then there’s carrier billing, available on most carriers now. Therefore the above argument is rendered invalid by default.
Apps are overpriced.
Yes, some are and that is a perfectly fine argument for not using them but it is not good enough to justify pirating them. I too was a great user of this one about 6 years ago. I improved. You can too. Most apps cost about a couple of dollars. That is about always 300 INR (~4 USD) which is still less than an average weekend’s spend.
The (Little) Evidence
Below are the results of a short survey I conducted for this post. It’s four shy of fifty responses so that is not as diverse a demographic as I was hoping for but it still gives a rough insight into the idea of paying or not paying for applications and pirating or not pirating them. It mostly involves people around me, and some around them. The results were mostly as expected… which was disappointing.
Out of the 46 people who did fill the survey a whopping 40 people, nearly 90% of them, said they didn’t pay for applications. Upon which they were sent to Part A of the form that asked them about their reasons and if they pirated applications.
The answers for
- Apps are expensive. (10)
- Your card/bank does not work on app stores. (2)
- You don’t believe in paying for apps. (20)
are pretty clear. It is safe to assume that most app stores support almost all banks in some form. The Google Play store has recently rolled out Netbanking and wallet application (PayTM, Freecharge etc.) support in India. Carrier billing also exists on most stores and in most countries. It is also clear that most people don’t believe in paying for apps.
The Other part is worth taking note here. 13 people i.e. 32.5% chose other out of which 10 wrote something along the lines of – most applications that offer value are free and get the job done – which is interesting because they did not say that they won’t pay for applications just that they find enough value in the free ones. This goes to show that most premium apps only offer superfluous features like dark themes, widget options etc. and these features don’t offer enough value to users so that they would want to pay for them.
14 people said they pirated paid apps. There were no subsequent questions for that choice since people who pirate will pirate and that is an argument for another day.
I asked a different set of questions from people who said that they did pay for applications.
The first was whether they still pirated apps and all six of them answered that they didn’t. That is evidence (considering the small demographic) that most people who find the idea of paying for apps fine in fact stay away from piracy. Though this is not a guarantee but a 6/6 goes to show that a similar survey on a larger number of people will probably result in a percentage that would still be considerably high.
The second was what they felt was a justified price of mobile applications and the results are pretty clear. Although that one anomaly of over $10 seems a bit odd.
I believe there is nothing wrong with paying for apps in the first place. They add quality to your life and day for much less. Even if we assume that the average Indian, or person for that matter, is a believer of free apps for all, that still doesn’t justify piracy of paid content. Not paying for applications is a choice. Pirating them is not something that can be considered righteous behaviour though a lot of people on the internet might strongly disagree. The survey goes to show that most people who do pay for applications will also not pirate them. The survey also says that fewer people believe in piracy of paid apps that is considering they answered honestly.
In conclusion, I can say that this was probably the most interesting blog post topic I’ve picked up on yet. I also think investigating it on a bigger scale would lead to amazing results.
What do you think? Do you pay for apps as well? Have you ever had a debate on the topic of freemium vs premium? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.