May 20, 2009 |
You must remember ShopSavvy: this was the application that was heavily used to demonstrate the power of the first Google Android-powered T-Mobile G1 phone. This application permits users to scan bar codes of various items when doing real-life shopping using their cell phone cameras and ShopSavvy will find better deals for the same products in other nearby brick and mortar shops or online.
It is no wonder that the usefulness of the application combined with heavy Google-supported PR have made ShopSavvy a very popular and heavily used application for mobile users both in the US and in Europe and Japan where they focused their efforts next to ensure international growth as well.
The question many of us have asked was pretty obvious: how are they going to make money? The application helps people save money but does not charge anything for its use – even the symbolic price of $.99. Of course this free approach is obvious given that Android marketplace was only available for free applications initially and the partnership with Google was of vital importance to the guys.
Yet it is obvious that everyone needs to make money to survive – including ShopSavvy developers. And now on their blog they are explaining their plans finally. The plan itself is nothing surprising: they are going to work with a sponsor (which happens to be Visa so it sounds like a pretty good sponsorship deal to me) and the application will feature some “Powered by …” link to promote that sponsor.
In addition to that, before the actual sponsorship program is launched within the application, all the users are invited to participate in a survey arranged by this sponsor. This sounds like a reasonable supplement to a simple sponsorship program as in addition to some advertising from within ShopSavvy the company will also be able to communicate with the application’s users and probably gather some information that this company could not find elsewhere or could waste dozens of thousands of dollars on marketing surveys conducted in a different manner.
So again, there’s nothing revolutionary or simply new about this monetization plan: it’s a simple ad-supported revenue model where a sponsor will also get the privilege of talking to the users directly and asking them a few questions (it took me probably 5 minutes or less to answer the questions). But the blog post made me think about how spoiled we must be by everything being available for free online as right in the post the guys behind ShopSavvy explained their position of having to make money and virtually begged the users for understanding:
Please don’t send us an email suggesting how evil we are. Please don’t leave negative ratings in the market. Please realize that we need to make money so we can keep adding inventory and features to ShopSavvy. Thanks for your support and understanding.
All of that is because to draw enough users into the survey, they will send all the users a message in a notification tab within the application inviting them to participate (for a chance to win $250, by the way). So a user has the option of helping the ShopSavvy sponsor with a few minutes of his or het time or deleting a notification which does not sound like a problem to me either.
Yet the developers seem to know they will face many angry users who will turn from love to hate quickly because of a simple fact: the creators of their favorite application also need to make money off something and ask for your assistance to help keep the service free.
I know how it feels because every time I raise the issue of advertising on blogs and how it helps us create the content that people visit our blogs for, I am attacked by dozens of irritated readers suggesting that I should not care about my revenue and should go make money elsewhere (which is actually exactly what I do) while they will continue enjoying my content if I enjoy writing it – and they will still block ads same as they do now.
It has been evident for quite a while that many internet users are too spoiled by availability of just about everything for free online but honestly, this does not look right to me when creators of excellent applications (those that invest their time and money in development of the products we simply enjoy or use in business) expect to face negative reaction from their users right away and beg them for understanding even before they actually do anything to earn money. I don’t know about you but I think that something should already be done to change this approach – unless we want the web to be filled with products that are created by enthusiasts only in their free time because no one wants to let them make money.