Wednesday, August 08, 2012
An order of magnitude cheaper
Computers in general are of not much use without software. And as few of us are able to program everything ourselves, we often need to buy that software. So since I bought the iPad earlier this week, I've been buying a lot of apps (games and utilities) in the App Store. And it struck me how there is an order of magnitude in difference in prices between the App Store and buying software for a PC: An expensive game costs 6€ instead of 60€, a useful "shareware" utility where you pay for the full version after having tried the free one cost 1 to 3€ instead of 10 to 30€, and so on.
Of course an iPad game isn't equivalent to a PC game in terms of polygon count and production cost. But that isn't necessarily a disadvantage for the iPad: Being lower cost, developers can take bigger risks, and create more different games. While the triple-A games on the PC these days are nearly exclusively sequels or games that play a lot like already existing games, you can find a huge variety of all sorts of weird new game concepts on the iPad. I especially like the iPad adaptations of board games, a category which by itself opens up a whole new universe of game concepts.
The price difference is even more striking for utility software, because there is often little or no difference in quality. And that with a smaller market: Apple sold 55 million iPads up to March 2012, and is expecting to sell the 100 millionth iPad by the end of this year; but there are over 1 billion PCs in use. So with a bigger market, why is software for a PC ten times more expensive than for an iPad. The iOS being a far more closed system, requiring less attention to potential differences in hardware might explain a part of it, but does that make software development really 10 times as expensive?