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27 Mar 2013

YNAB Mobile Apps are Now Free

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by Jesse Mecham

Before I get to the announcement, I wanted to let everyone know that the Android app now has Geosmart Payees, which gives it full feature parity with the iPhone! Android users will love that feature.

Starting today, we’re making our mobile apps free for both iPhone and Android. If you’ve been on the fence about whether $5 is worth it, I guess now that question should be answered 🙂 Download the iPhone or Android app (on Google Play only for now; we are still waiting on Amazon approval).

We’ve had a lot of internal discussion about this, and I even posted a question about it on Facebook to see what you guys thought. The reaction was mixed. Some said they were happy to pay for it, and were worried that development would slow down if we didn’t charge for it.

Others said that they thought the app should be combined, and they felt a bit nickel and dimed by the second purchase.

A few even said that they didn’t have a smartphone, and wouldn’t want to subsidize development of the mobile apps with their desktop purchase.

Over the last while, we’ve increasingly felt that it wasn’t making much sense to charge for the mobile apps, since the desktop is required for them to have any functionality.

Friction during the trial of YNAB

A potential new user comes to YNAB (likely referred by a friend), sees what we have to offer, and jumps into the trial. But a big part of what’s making a lot of YNABers successful these days is cloud sync. Users can sync with their spouse’s data, enter transactions on the go, and feel more in control of their money.

But these trial YNABers were in a bit of a pickle. Do they purchase the iPhone or Android app so they can test cloud sync? (iPhone had the Lite version, but did the trialer know what the difference was based on their experience? Android didn’t even have a Lite version, so the problem was compounded).

On top of not being able to give the full YNAB experience a fair shake, we were also adding one more thing to think about when it came to answering the question of whether or not YNAB–as a package–was worth it.

Advantages to making the mobile apps free

So, we’re making them free. This has three advantages, the last one being small, but still nice:

1) Those of you worried about development slowing on the mobile side because we’re making them free, don’t worry about it. We’re fairly confident that the improved experience for trialers of YNAB will improve conversion rates, and that those improved conversion rates will translate into more revenue than was earned when we were charging for the mobile apps. (Mobile app revenue, as a percentage of total YNAB revenue, is very very small, so this idea is not at all a stretch.)

2) Those of you on the fence about the $5 app being worth it won’t have to ask yourselves that question anymore. You’ll just have to think about the one-time purchase, and go from there. The cognitive load for potential purchasers will drop, and we think that will help them come to the right decision. (The right decision, in this case, is to buy ;))

3) We won’t have to send refund checks of $4.99 to people that accidentally purchase the mobile app, not realizing that the desktop app was required! That doesn’t happen a lot, since we use a very big screenshot to warn people, but it still happens, and it won’t anymore 🙂 Yeah for less overhead!

To those few that mentioned not wanting to subsidize mobile development with their desktop purchase, I’ll just have to come clean and let you know that you already have. The mobile app revenue has never made enough to cover their own development costs.

What about those that just purchased?

There will always be some people that just purchased. We’ve had our builds ready to go free for quite some time, and basically have just been waiting on for the various store approvals (still waiting on Amazon). So we haven’t given a second thought to which day, or time of week or month would be ideal to make this switch.

The fact of the matter is that there is no ideal time, and we have to make a cutoff somewhere.

Hopefully those that just purchased understand that the change means no offense, and that if you felt the app was worth the $5 purchase before we made this announcement, that doesn’t suddenly change how much you feel the app was worth 🙂

Conclusion: We’re excited

In the end, we’re excited to make this change. We think it will help a lot more people appreciate exactly what YNAB has to offer, will lead to increased sales, and will help us further development to make YNAB–the whole system–even better.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)


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