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I have been thinking quite a bit about applications with advertising. Much of this thinking ... Smartphone News forum

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    azstar's Avatar
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    I have been thinking quite a bit about applications with advertising. Much of this thinking was sparked by the decision of the developer of a popular Twitter application for BlackBerry to add advertisements to their free application. This prompted a flood of tweets in protest and the developer promptly removing the ads. This also became headline news in many tech blogs the day that it happened. I just don't get it, I quite honestly was surprised that there was such a negative reaction. This was a free application, one of the most popular ones in use, the developers had spent months working on it and adding requests by it's users and needed to find a way to start earning something after all their hard work. This then prompted developers of other twitter applications to start bragging about how they were ad free...but quite frankly their applications were not nearly as good. Now the developer has released an ad free version which requires a small annual subscription and their free version once again has a simple ad banner.

    Advertising within applications is nothing new, especially for iPhone users. It is to be expected by them to see ads in practically any free application, after all, software companies have to make money. Almost every free app I have on my iPod Touch has a banner at the top with ads, or a link to click for more of the developers products and services. And even in BlackBerry, apps like viigo have been using banner ads for quite some time and I don't see any protests about that.

    I would rather use an app with ads if it performed better and had more options than an ad free version...and if the application has a premium version and I really like and frequently use the free one, I will buy the premium version in support of the developer. This support also benefits the user because it gives the developer the resources needed to make continual improvements. I have absolutely no complaints about apps generating income with advertising if they are offering their product for free. If it's a premuim app, and I paid to use it, then I don't expect to see ads, I've done my part, leave the ads for the ones who either can't or won't buy a premium version.

    But then you come to an interesting and bothersome situation like one I ran into this week. I regularly check the freeappalert website which lists applications for iPhone/iPod Touch that were premium and just became free. These are often short term deals, with the apps going back to their regular price after a day or two. It's a great way to check out new things, or see how well a developer creates their apps. On Sept 4th I picked up a free copy of iSpot Pro. It is a game similar to Mirror Magic, spot the differences between two images. It's a bit too easy, I was glad I got it free, but I could see myself occasionally playing it so I kept it. Yesterday I noticed that there was an update available for it.

    Do you look and see if they list the changes, or do you just assume good things to come and hit update all? I always look, want to see if new levels were added to a gaime, or bug fixes implemented. I was quite shocked to see that the update for this was not an update at all, but instead a roll back to the free, ad filled version! They weren't sneaky about it either...plain as day!



    They formerly had two versions, a free and pro, and now in the App Store the original free version is no longer available, but Pro remains free...and their "update" for their "Pro" edition is now really downgrading to the ad laden old free version. Now since I got this app for free I don't feel like I have the right to be completely outraged...but what about the people who bought the application, those who touched update all, trusting that this update was bringing maybe some new levels, images, or options. Imagine their surprise when they opened the application to see what new goodness was in store just to get slapped with ads when they went out of their way to buy the ad free version. That is just WRONG!

    Since I am fairly new to the Apple App Store scene, I would like to hear if anyone else has experienced something similar, is this a common tactic for developers? What are your opinions on ads in apps in general? Do you avoid apps with ads completely, do they bother you? Have you even bought an app just to have them later turn around and clutter it up with ads? Sound off people!
    Last edited by azstar; 09-11-2009 at 05:59 PM.

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    I don't mind using apps with ad content or banners in them. For instance, I use the free version of Slacker radio. The ads don't bother me at all. In fact I think it breaks up the monotony of song after song. Besides, their ads are very short. And I agree, these developers put a lot of hard time and effort to building these apps. They should be paid for their services, especially if you have 100's, 1000's of users using the app. Its only fair. And I would purchase Slacker if I had to but I like it the way it is.
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    Good catch, I've noticed a few other Apps where this has occurred. iStats was another one I posted about alltho a little different, it had features removed and unless you take the time to read what the update has you would never know. It was free then became a Paid App and is currently a Paid App.

    While I don't think it's common, I'm not sure b/c you really have to pay attention and since there are so many Apps in the Store It would be very hard to keep track. One thing I'm stuck on and will not budge on is Ad's. Ad's are an insult to the user.
    I understand how and why they are included in Apps but do not agree with it. Greed is not acceptable. There are several ways a developer can off set things so they are not being used or abused and can make a profit.
    I prefer to see a developer create two Apps. One Paid-Ad free and of course the second App, free and Ad supported if need be.
    If I like an App and it has Ad's it gets deleted no matter how good it may be.

    I would like to know how many people view an Ad in an App and actually tap the Ad and purchase the product?
    While I set in my easy chair at home I don't need my door bell ringing every 30 seconds with someone trying to sell me something I don't need. If I need something I will seek it out on my own when I have the time. I've always been fascinated by the Ad vs No Ad debate (if you can call it that). Not just with Apps but with Web Sites and everything else in our daily lives. No question they work and make money for someone. I've just never understood why? It's no secret many Ad's lead to malware, spyware and viruses (on a desktop screen). Banners and Ad's on a phone screen are one simple step away from the same thing. Why do we think our phone screen is any different than our computer desktop screen?

    We don't tolerate unsolicited phone calls at home anymore and the door to door salesperson is all but gone, why do we tolerate Ad's on our screens? Don't you find it interesting?

  4. #4
    azstar's Avatar
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    I am not an ad clicker, on web pages or in apps, although when everyone was putting up a stink about the twitter app's ads I made a point of clicking every ad that appeared in that app just because I thought the protest was silly. I have come to accept ads with services. Radio, TV, web sites, and apps....at least I don't have to get up and answer the phone or open the door for them and I can easily ignore them.

    I will happily use an app with ads if it's free, I feel it's fair.....I'm getting something for basically nothing, and I don't have to click the ads.

    But the situation with them making the pro version which people paid for, now an ad supported version still is making me shake my head. In the past I have always looked before updating, more out of curiosity....but now always will in order to avoid negative changes.
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    Ad's on a mobile device completely derail your browsing session or Application and make it near impossible to get back to the original spot. This is one reason I just can't buy into the Ad based Apps

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    I confess I was one of the many to complain about the ads that were introduced in the Twitter app that you referred to above. I use it, although not as much as I used to simply because I came up in the queue to get another Twitter app that I had waited for months to be able to join.

    I agree with your premise, though, and felt a little remiss at having been so quick to complain about the ads. I totally agree that the folks who put in so much time deserve to be rewarded ($) for their efforts, especially when they produce a quality Twitter app such as this one has become.

    On the other side of the issue, ads on a small phone screen CAN be very annoying and I prefer to NOT have them. I appreciate th option of paying a small fee and not having them. In this case, I didn't pay the fee but if I had stayed with that app full time, I would have gladly done so. As is stands, when I use the app now (seldomly) I just put up with the small banner ad and keep quiet.
    For every complex problem there is a solution, that is simple, neat, .....and wrong! (H. L. Mencken) jblackfish(at)pinstack(dot)com

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