Writing apps an app is pretty hard, but supporting it is a lot harder I am finding. I have an app on the iOS App Store called Ghost Alert (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ghost-alert/id399830783?mt=8) and its sister app Ghost Alert Lite (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ghost-alert-lite/id407964458?mt=8). The main difference between them is that one has ads but is free and the other costs $.099 but does not have ads. Initially, I had intended to release the free version as a simple experiment and have its features trail the payed one by a release or two.
Like all plans, mine fell apart in the face of the users on a few important fronts. The first being that I have been busy contracting and have not had enough time to do any features updates to either app; of course, I have done compatibility updates for new versions of iOS and have fixed some small bugs that were found mostly surrounding 3GS users. Additionally, the free app was not only downloaded significantly more than the paid one, but it also (to my surprise) generated some revenue; it wasn’t a lot of money but it was a lot more than the paid app.
So in summary we have basically the same app with the same features but one version is free and the other costs $0.99. Understandably, a few users felt cheated and rated both apps at one star. I quickly learned that a relatively small volume of very bad ratings can bring your average rating down significantly.
Now I’m at a impasse. I want to support my users. There are significantly more of them using the free version than the paid, but I do feel that the paid users should get something a little extra but no so much as to alienate the community of free users. There is a major technical change that I want to make that is at the heart of both apps, but this is more an optimization and, thought it will improve the user experience of both versions of the app, is not in itself a new feature. Is there an elegant way to gimp functionality without turning the “Lite” version of your app into a simple shell of the “full” version? To be clear, no features that already exist in the “Lite” version will be removed; I am looking to add a number of features to both. Please sound off in the comments if you have any advice or a user of either app; if you are a user feel free to make a feature request, since I am definitely looking to make-up my extended absence up to you guys.