Overcast 2’s new business model is a popularity litmus test

Overcast 2’s new business model is a popularity litmus test

If you’re a fan of podcasts, you’ve likely heard of Overcast. In releasing version 2 of his app, Marco Arment is also testing a new business model, allowing fans to support his efforts monthly.

Overcast’s original model was freemium; you paid for a very basic podcasting app, and an in-app purchase unlocked features like Smart Speed, which cut down on dead air by eliminating long gaps between words.

Now, Arment is testing his app’s popularity, and our willingness to support his efforts. Instead of asking users to pay up front or buy extra features via an in-app purchase, he’s asking for $1 per month.

It’s completely optional, too. You’ll now get all the features that made Overcast great without paying a dime — the $1 each month is your choice. It’s also non-recurring, so you can support Arment as much (or little) as you like.

And if you choose not to support Arment? “No hard feelings,” he says.

This ‘new’ thinking grabbed my attention. While most developers choose between in-app purchases, freemium or ad supported, Arment chose to be user supported.

It’s not the first time a developer has relied on the support of users to get by. David Smith, who made Sleep++ and the popular Pedometer++, uses a ‘tip jar’ in his pedometer app.

Arment says only 20 percent of Overcast’s users were paying for the upgraded features, leaving 80 percent “using an inferior app.” He also says if a mere 5 percent of those users pay the $1 per month patronage, Overcast 2 will match the revenue stream of its predecessor.

There may be “special features” available to backers in the future, Arment says, but that’s all tentatively based on the costs of doing business and our reaction to patronage.

Coming off his reckoning with ad blocker Peace, Arment is playing a wholly different game here — and I like it. I’ve always held the opinion that we need to change our attitudes about spending money for apps. Interestingly, I routinely say “spend a buck, support a dev.”

Whether or not we’ll spend that buck every month is an entirely different concept, but it’s a business model worth exploring.

Overcast 2 [Marco Arment]

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