A little less than a year ago, I put out a small app called “Closeby” for $2.99. What it does is really simple: it goes through everyone in your address book, geocodes their addresses and tells you how far away they are from your current location. The people I’ve talked to who bought it liked it, but the most common response I get is something like “That’s a cool idea. I have no idea why I’d want that, but it’s a cool idea.” And so it hasn’t sold very well. In the entire amount of time it’s been out, it’s sold about 170 copies, and lowering the price to 99¢ last summer sometime didn’t make much of a difference.
I hated seeing something I worked on languish, so I decided to take the app free and include iAds. My realization recently was that Closeby is probably a better free than paid app, and if someone really likes it, I’ve included a 99¢ in app purchase. I also took extra special care to make sure that I avoid showing ads to people who previously purchased the app, and included a workaround incase it doesn’t work every time. The reason I say it’s probably a better free app is that, I think people will download a free app just because it sounds kind of cool, but won’t pay money for something they’re not sure they’ll ever use. I’m interested to see if I’m right about any of that.
The new version of Closeby is available now for free on The App Store.