Recently a customer emailed me and said he was thinking about buying our product, but a developer approached him and said he could build an app with no monthly fee. Why should he pay us a monthly (or yearly) fee?

After all, the app is done, why keep paying? Monthly fees are no fun, I get it.

Let’s think this through, and see what happens with this project with “no monthly fees.” Spoiler alert, there are still fees later on!


No Monthly Fees, FTW?

First, I’m not hating on people who go this route. There are great developers out there, and some apps have to be built custom. Heck, we do custom apps for people!

I don’t think everyone knows what they are getting into when they are trying to save money on monthly fees.

Heres how this “no monthly fees” project starts:

  • Find a good developer (harder than it sounds)
  • Pay him or her thousands to build the app
  • Boom, we are on the app stores! What now?

Things go good for a while, the app is running great. But then…

Something isn’t working right.

Hmm, the app login stopped working. What now? You email your developer, maybe he helps you for free, or maybe he’s disappeared. Maybe you have to pay someone else to take over the project and help get things working again.

Ok things are fixed, for now, but a few months later…

I want to update the app. How do I do that?

You pay your developer more money to make changes and release a new version of the app. This could be hundreds, maybe thousands. Maybe you do it yourself because you’re rad. Rock on.

A few more months go by.

Apple and Google release new devices and new software with breaking changes 1 year after the app is published.

This happens every couple of years, for example when the iPhone X came out. Most people had to rebuild and resubmit their apps to support the new screen size.

Sometimes old code libraries get deprecated, and Google pulls apps off the app store because the libraries are out of date. This happened recently.

What happens with your app? Call up your developer, pay more money for updates and app resubmission.

Then a few months later…

Push Notifications stop working.

They worked, then they didn’t. What happened? iOS certificates expire every year, and you have to redo them. Or maybe your Firebase account went wonky.

Call that developer again…

What else could go wrong?

Maybe none of this happens, but I’ve worked with thousands of customers over the last several years, and these are very common issues.

The cost for people paying “no monthly fees” is in the thousands. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s a different way of building an app. If that’s your thing, go for it.

Could monthly fees be good?

Considering the costs above, monthly fees could be a good thing.

Monthly fees are stable, kind of like car insurance. It’s something affordable you can pay each month for peace of mind, instead of freaking out when everything breaks and you have to pay thousands to fix it.

You know your app will be taken care of, and you won’t have big unexpected bills.

Don’t think monthly fees are costing you more. Paying a monthly fee to have support, updated code, free app store re-submissions, and push notifications may actually save you money in the long run.


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  2. erotik

    November 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm

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