Apps: To buy, or not to buy? That is the question

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: May 11, 2014


As you probably already know, smartphones aren’t just about fancy hardware or great specs. As the old saying goes, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” For smartphones, the insides consist of a lot of useful features, but one of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspect, of a phone is the ability to develop, download, and use applications. The question that everybody needs to answer when they start using applications is, “Do I want to pay for applications or not?”


The fact that you have the choice to download free applications is amazing on its own, but despite the fact that you don’t actually have to fork over any of your own money, the developers who put hours and hours into work into an application need to (and most often should be) paid somehow for providing us with their services. Still, even without paying any money, the way that developers get their money can be somewhat of an annoyance, because the most common way for them to make money is by using advertisements in their applications.


My view on applications have changed over the years. At first I was really into free applications, because why pay money if I didn’t have to? Plus, avoiding clicking on advertisements was something that I was quite good at. Still, it wasn’t a completely unavoidable occurrence, and after a while it seemed like a lot of applications were able to ninja advertisements in at the last minute. The phone would lag, I would click on a button only to have nothing happen, a quick advertisement flashes, and the next thing I know my browser is opening up to some product that I didn’t want to buy. Those sneaky foxes are always trying to swipe my money.


But I think the real kicker for me was when I started to let my son play with my phone, which before I discovered “Kid Zone” turned out to be a pretty bad idea. Advertisements were always being clicked, things were always being downloaded, and free applications no longer seemed like it was worth the hassle. I started looking into paying to get rid of the advertisements.


Most of the time, I will pay for an application if I try it and like it. If I feel like a developer has done a good enough job on an application, why not support them by paying them some money? The fortunate thing about smartphone applications is that most of them cost less than $3 to purchase - even when it comes to playing games. Then again, if you use a lot of applications this can add up really quickly. Even if you don’t use a lot of applications, purchasing different applications over time can also add up. But that’s the price we pay for the services we enjoy, right?


There are pros and cons to both. You either deal with the slight annoyance of accidentally clicking advertisements, or you lose out on a couple of dollars when you find an application that you really like. Honestly, these days I do a little bit of both. For a while I was strictly free, then I was almost strictly pay, and now I’m pretty much a healthy mix of both. I would be lying if I didn’t say I cringed when I go back through all of the applications I’ve ever bought on any platform, because between three different platforms I’ve spent quite a large chunk of money on applications that are no longer interesting or supported. I try not to dwell to much on it.


Readers, when it comes to applications on your smartphone, what route do you typically take? Do you generally look for anything free, or do you prefer to pay for applications? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images via Earth Times, Speaking Technically