More application promotions should be like Humble Bundle

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: February 1, 2012

Applications are everything nowadays. Without them, your smartphone would be nothing but a mobile web browser that can make calls and send texts. Because of their high priority, developers around the world have been jumping on the mobile app bandwagon and coding until their fingers go numb (or until they run out of caffeine, whichever comes first).

In a large number of cases within App Store and Android Market, many apps come in both free and paid versions. The free (usually referred to as "lite") version generally comes missing some key features that may set that particular app apart from others in its category. The premium (or paid) apps usually unlock those features and, of course and more importantly, pay developers for their hard work. Without some cash incentive, there is little reason for developers to continue working into the wee hours of the morning and bending over backward to provide mobile platforms with quality apps.

I have no problem with putting back a little money for new apps. I've spent somewhere north of $200 for all of the apps I've purchased in the past two years, and plan on spending more as existing apps mature and new apps appear.

That said, it doesn't mean I'm not looking for a better way to spend my app money – sales, better deals, etc. I'm constantly perusing catalogs like App Shopper on iOS for some highly rated apps that have gone on sale, or any Android apps that are being offered in a promotion.

Yesterday, a company by the name of Humble Bundle started their sale of yet another awesome package of games. This time, however, they included support for Android. The bundle consists of three games (four, if you're willing to pay more than the average price, which is currently $5.95) that are compatible with Android, OS X, Windows and Linux. Instead of purchasing the games separately, you purchase them in a bundle, as the company's name suggests. And instead of having a set price, you are ultimately in control of how much you want to pay to get the games, and where your money is going. Before sending your payment, you can set exactly how much of your money you want to go to the developer, Humble Bundle and charity (Child's Play Charity and Electronic Frontier Foundation).

Best of all, the apps and games you purchase through Humble Bundle are DRM-free, meaning you can install them as much as you'd like, on as many devices are you'd like. And for you Steam users out there, you can claim your purchases with your Steam account. On top of that, you get the associated soundtracks, separately, with the purchase (in either FLAC or MP3 form).

So in case you've somehow missed the juicy stuff, the Humble Bundle deal allows you to:

  • Purchase the apps once for use on your PC, Mac or Android devices
  • Pay what you want for the apps
  • Support charity, and choose where your money goes
  • Re-download as much as you want
  • Get the soundtracks!

Humble Bundles have been going on for some time now. But the key difference here is that they've finally included Android in fun, and plan to in the future if all goes well. Quite honestly, I think it's a fantastic thing. You get the apps and games you want, donate the amount of money you want (or can) and do it all for a good cause.

If there were more offerings like this for mobile apps, I would willingly spend more money on apps. (Not to mention, it sort of serves as universal app purchasing, excluding iOS.) That said, there are a few points worth making.

First, if people are in control of the price of the apps, how are developers going to earn any money? Initially, I thought that most people would just cop out and pay just a buck or two for the games – I'm sure quite a few have. But Humble Bundle has provided buyers with analytics on their current sales. Currently, there are over 83,000 people who have bought the bundle, and that number is quickly rising. And over $494,000 has been spent on the four games. That means the average purchase is just short of $6, and the top 10 contributors have coughed up between $1,660.19 and $222.22. And this is just the second day of 15. That's rather impressive, if you ask me.

Also, I was concerned that if I bought apps through this third-party service instead of, say, Android Market or Amazon's Appstore, I would be stuck on the current version of the app, instead of getting updates like you would through a supported app store. However, after doing a little digging, I found a post on Reddit that answered all of my questions. The answer on Reddit was:

"You will get future updates as well (although not on the marketplace.) We are currently beta testing our Android app which will make it easy, which should be publicly launched in the next few days."

Purchasing apps through Humble Bundle may not be as simple or as assuring as buying them straight from Market. But it's a wonderful thing, and in the end, everyone benefits. I just made my contribution and I've signed up for notifications on future Humble Bundle deals, and regardless of what games or apps they have to offer, I will be buying them, if only to gift the apps to someone else.

Did you buy this bundle? If not, will you consider it? What do you think about Humble Bundle and their cause? Should there be more of this in the mobile space?