Cost and Value

Writer Pro was released this week. It’s the follow-up to one of my favorite apps – the excellent iA Writer. Aside from interesting new features like syntax control, there was one aspect of Writer Pro’s release that caused me to pause and think: the price.

Writer Pro costs $20. That’s $20 for the Mac version and another $20 for the iOS version. In a world of 99¢ apps, the pricing of Writer Pro is somewhat unique. It is decidedly not an impulse buy.

Why $20? Oliver Reichenstein, founder of Information Architects, explains:

We want people to think before they buy Writer Pro. Writer Pro is not for everybody. It is a professional writing suite for professional writers. Don’t buy it if you’re just interested in testing cool stuff.

The more I think about this pricing strategy, the more I like it. By setting the bar a little higher, Writer Pro’s price helps ensure that people who purchase are thoughtful and serious about the app.

This leads to an important realization: paying for something costly changes your perception of it. The more costly something is, the more you appreciate it. The more you invest in it before disposing of it. The more you care for it over time. For example…


When streaming music (low cost), I am quick to move on if an album doesn’t immediately interest me. If I purchase an album outright (high cost), I am much more likely to give it repeated listens before giving up on it. This can be rewarding, as often the best albums are the ones that grow on you over time.


The Information, a technology news site, makes its articles available to subscribers only, at a cost of $39 a month. Aside from this business model’s impact on journalism, it completely changes the relationship of the reader to the reporter. The reader is likely to be highly engaged – reading thoughtfully and providing feedback – in addition to having higher expectations for the quality of reporting.


Vitsoe makes “long-living furniture, always striving to be better rather than newer.” As a result, Vitsoe’s furniture never goes on sale and is relatively costly (at least in the short term). The cost, however, is what allows Vitsoe to fulfill its mission. It enables the high level of quality required for it’s furniture to last. It also ensures that customers have thoughtfully considered their purchase and will be invested in using it for a lifetime.

All of the above characteristics are true of app purchases. In the case of Writer Pro, the costly price will result in a group of thoughtful, engaged people that expect a lot out of the product and are invested in using it and seeing it improve over time. This is good for all involved. The makers of Writer Pro can focus on satisfying a thoughtful, engaged user base. The users of Writer Pro can enjoy a well-crafted tool, knowing that its development will be sustainable.

I haven’t purchased Writer Pro yet. I’m still thoughtfully considering it. If and when I do, however, it certainly won’t be on impulse.