Wearable Tech

Vision Pro Revives One-and-Done App Purchases

Apple CEO Tim Cook poses for a selfie with a customer wearing a Vision Pro
Apple CEO Tim Cook poses for a selfie with a customer wearing the Vision Pro. (Image Credit: Apple)

Remember when you could pay for a full-featured app download and use it forever? Those were the days before you had to make in-app purchases to get any real value from the app or lease it through a subscription. There seems to be a revival of the good old days at Apple’s App Store for its augmented reality/virtual reality Vision Pro goggles.

According to data released by Appfigures, more than half the developers making Vision Pro-only applications (54%) are good, old-fashioned paid downloads. In Apple’s Apple App Store, barely 5% of apps require payment, the research website added.

“It’s a byproduct of being a new ecosystem and storefront,” said Eric Abbruzzese, a research director at ABI Research, a global technology intelligence firm.

“The App Store around the iPhone’s launch and growth was almost entirely free versus paid,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Subscriptions were pushed in recent years as a way for both developers and Apple to grow service revenues.”

“Also,” he added, “fewer customers will be willing to subscribe to an app on an entirely new platform. As an understanding of Vision Pro and its capabilities solidifies and users develop usage habits, longer-term monetization options are more viable. Few will be willing to subscribe to an app before they have developed habits and preferences with Vision Pro.”

Clear Path to Profitability

With new products, it typically takes three versions before they’re considered mature and relatively low risk, explained Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“Developers want their money upfront because there is a great deal of risk with any new platform that it might not be successful,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The straightforward revenue generation aspect of the paid download model is attractive to some developers because their apps often cater to niche markets that require specialized functionality, added Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst of SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“Charging for downloads helps recoup development costs and ensures a committed user base,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Moreover,” he continued, “it maintains a level of exclusivity, attracting users serious about leveraging Vision Pro features. The model provides a clear path to profitability and supports ongoing app development efforts.”

App Discrepancy

Appfigures also found that while paid downloads were popular with developers making Vision Pro-only apps, that wasn’t the case for iOS software makers optimizing their iPhone and iPad apps for the AR/VR device. Only 17% of optimized apps were paid downloads, it reported, while 25% were not monetizing in the App Store, and 58% were monetizing with subscriptions.

Vision Pro-only developers have a small audience of less than 200,000 users, explained Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, Calif.

“Developers of iPhone apps have a billion potential users with payback potential,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Vision Pro users will always go towards subscriptions when they have the ability to do that.”

“The iPhone isn’t going any place, and that model was already in place for the apps when Vision Pro was announced, so those developers are already getting paid and will continue to get paid, regardless of whether Vision Pro is successful,” Enderle added.

Vena pointed out that the audience differs for Vision Pro-only and iPhone developers. “Vision Pro apps typically target a niche audience with specific needs, leading developers to adopt different monetization strategies, such as paid downloads,” he said.

“In contrast,” he continued, “iPhone developers often cater to a broader market with diverse app categories, allowing for varied monetization approaches, like freemium models or in-app purchases. Additionally, the development requirements and user expectations for these two types of apps differ significantly.”

Modest Pricing on Vision Pro Apps

According to Appfigures data cited by TechCrunch, Vision Pro apps are relatively inexpensive. An analysis of all the apps made for the device shows an average price of US$5.67, with most apps being $9.99 or less. An outlier was an interactive periodic table of elements for $98.

Appfigures calculates that purchasing all the apps available for the Vision Pro would cost $1,089.07. The Vision Pro sells for $3,499.

Discovery of Vision Pro apps can be a problem, though, since Apple removed all software for the device from the “top charts” in its App Store.

“Apple’s removal of categories and top charts could potentially harm developers by diminishing app discoverability and hindering competitive analysis,” Vena said.

“Without these features, developers may struggle to reach their target audience and gauge market trends, impacting user acquisition and revenue generation,” he continued.

“Overall, the removal of these features may create challenges for developers in maintaining visibility and competitiveness in the Vision Pro market,” he added.

New Monetization Models

However, Enderle discounted the potential harm caused by the absence of categories and top lists at this point in Vision Pro’s development. “There aren’t many apps yet, so ranking initially might just cause confusion or point people to questionable early apps,” he said.

“Expect these categories to show up once there are enough apps to justify them,” he added. “The platform just isn’t there yet.”

He predicted another change as the platform matures. “Eventually, Vision Pro-only developers will move to other monetization models,” he said. ” I expect they’ll pivot to the subscription model when the second or third versions of the product are released, as those releases should validate Vision Pro’s success.”

Vena noted that Vision Pro-only developers may eventually transition to alternative monetization models to adapt to evolving market trends and user preferences.

“Subscription-based or freemium models offer recurring revenue streams and increased user engagement potential, appealing to developers seeking sustainable income and wider user reach,” he explained.

“As competition grows in the Vision Pro market, developers may explore different models to stay competitive and meet changing user expectations,” he continued. “Ultimately, the choice will depend on the developer’s goals and the perceived value of their app’s features.”

Abbruzzese added that, ultimately, the Vision Pro app store and development ecosystem will more closely resemble iOS. “Apple’s intense focus on service revenue means that Apple likely wants that to happen sooner than later,” he said.

John P. Mello Jr.

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government Security News. Email John.

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