Update on Penultimate’s paper business

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Turns out that I wasn’t the only person who disliked the cost of paper templates in the updated version of Penultimate, and the negative feedback has been so strong that the developer has posted a blog post on the matter. In the post, the developer explains that the paper shop was meant as a quick access portal for those who didn’t want to go out and find free templates, which you can easily import to the app. He writes that he feels the import feature has been mostly ignored by those who disliked the paper shop, and maybe even misunderstood.

I can’t speak for others, but personally I understood the implications of free paper import immediately- and I’ve even created my own template. I think it’s a great feature with a lot of potential, and I would even have been willing to pay for the paper import feature itself if that was required. What I disliked however, was the total cost of the paper template packs- a total of $14.

App updates is often a tricky thing to justify on iOS as they will be free to buyers and not necessarily bring new users, meaning no revenue from the update. This can be solved by releasing features as add-ons through in-app purchases, which I understand if people need to do. In this case tough, we weren’t talking $2-3 to unlock a feature, but rather up to $14 to unlock paper templates. I and many others found multiple templates that looked interesting, spread across a range of paper packs- and it could easily have added up to much more than you’d expect to pay if you paid for the actual paper feature itself. In other words, the system lacked a bulk price to cater to the most active users, and that is never good- just look at Audible, which I eventually stopped using because there were no plans to cater to my heavy use of the service.

For Penultimate, a more logical payment structure would have been e.g. $1 per paper pack, and $5 for all (or something along those lines). The way the system was actually released, the developer ended up (unintentionally) overcharging his most loyal user, for a product with no variable cost and more or less no development cost (you can make a paper template in a few minutes, so I don’t think a couple dozen templates took him that long to create compared to the coding for the actual app update).

Anyways, all of this will now be rectified as the prices will be slashed, a community for sharing papers will be prioritized and people who bought paper packs already can get refunds if they like. The latter is a massive gesture, and convinced me that the developer did indeed not plan to make this a gold mine, unlike all those freemium game developers who leave money trails behind them while running to the bank with all the money they got from selling virtual goods (hi ngmoco!!!).

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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