Monday, October 27, 2014

Free app as a service gateway

When I came up with an app idea for a way to make sure people showing up for an event, like a party or wedding, were invited, I stuck in a revenue stream automatically--the app would be free to get, but would charge to help you host for an event.

Thinking that through I thought of areas where that's obvious, like if you have an app for car service. There are some out there but will not give them free advertising by naming any. And obviously most people expect to pay if some stranger drives them somewhere.

But no one would want to buy an app for such a thing, I would think.

Someone might figure out some way to charge for such an app, but for business ideas that occur to me that would be silly. The money is to be made at the point of transaction, like, getting a ride.

Imagine instead someone hollered that all rides should be free!!! And pushed for an industry standard that free apps should involve free car rides.

And they could call it: Free-ider!

And claim they'd revolutionized human society, like imagine! A world, where everyone can get a free car ride! Can you see it? Then everyone could ride, right?

Well, of course no.

They could declare that people want to ride for free. Yup. Duh. Plenty of people would like to TAKE a free ride, but how many people would really like to give one?

To me there are notions that involve giving away human effort, where it's easy to SEE that with a car ride. It can be harder when you discuss things more abstract, like writing a novel, music, code, or taking a photograph.

There is an intrinsic community value though in giving things away. And it feels good. But it is a gift, claiming otherwise is disingenuous.

So I think there is a great community aspect to the web, which in many ways is the biggest community ever, where people do happily give free rides, both literally and figuratively. That's a great thing which really helps build a more communal world because the web allows for a free flow around the globe for the greater benefit of us all. But that shouldn't be forced upon everyone.

Human effort is not free. Whether a person who works at something is paid or not, she or he still worked at it. Not paying someone for their work is not some revolution in human thought.

Transactions are the point at which money is to be made. Apps can be a gateway to a transaction, so do not necessarily need to be purchased and I suggest that the dominate business model within the app space will become apps as service gateways.

And of course the transaction side should be upfront. It's easy with a car service, but for other areas it might not be as intuitive so should be clearly stated well before anyone has the app, as I've talked at length about how much I dislike what I call stealth transactions.

But then again, to me that will make having the app make sense! You don't get an app for a car service puzzling about where they make money, now do you?

Soon I think apps will dominate where no one wonders how the business makes money, and it will have NOTHING to do with ads.

Using a car service as an example it's clear exactly how people can use the web and pay for a service, as people will pay for a desired service at the point of transaction. Naively one might think that if people could just steal the car they wouldn't pay, but that's the fantasy world. And if you believe that everyone can get free rides indefinitely then you're also in a fantasy.

The app can be the gateway to a service people pay to have. And for that reason I think most apps will be free.

James Harris
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