« Date range for Attendance reports | Main | Attendance 3.5.2 approved »
Tuesday
Sep282010

Attendance 3.6 approved and new price effective October 1, 2010

Attendance 3.6 was released today with the option to specify a date range for reports.

With all the improvements made since May 2009 (when the price was raised to $3.99), I have decided to raise the price to $4.99 (tier 5) effective October 1, 2010. If you have friends/co-workers that are considering buying it, please let them know they can purchase Attendance at the current price of $3.99 (tier 4) through September.

The rest of this post will explain why I'm raising the price and why I think it is still a fair price. As you likely know, Apple does not provide a way to charge for updates unless you make an in-app purchase. The original price of the app was $2.99 when I released it in January of 2009. At that time Attendance had just a few features and I wasn't certain of how many updates I would make. I received lots of great feedback and numerous feature requests in the first few months. One of the most common requests was the ability to customize the statuses. During a few weekends, I made the time to add that feature and released version 2.0 in May of 2009 with a new price of $3.99. Sales actually increased in May as I believe many people wanted that feature. Since then I have continued to add many new features. I did make a $1.99 in-app purchase for transferring the data between multiple devices. As I guessed, people with multiple devices (such as an iPhone and an iPad) would be willing to pay a few dollars to copy the data back and forth between the devices. I've sold about 300 copies of that in-app purchase. That matches my expectation. Writing the code to do this required about four full days of work during a midsemester break. The only other feature I would consider making an in-app purchase is grading functionality, but I am still learning towards a separate iPad only app if I decide to write a grading application. The earliest I would have time to do that is the summer of 2011 so I will have to see how many other things I need to do next summer and how motivated I am to write a new application and support it.

In addition to all the new features I've added, one of the reasons I am increasing the price is the numerous e-mails I receive about the application. I created a website with a FAQ and a number of videos showing how to use the features of the application, but I still receive a number of e-mails asking how to use Attendance. In addition to all the time required to develop the application, I have spent quite a bit of time answering over 1200 e-mails. Of course, a few of these e-mails were pre-sales questions and some were people that had found minor bugs or were requesting new features, but the vast majority were questions about how to use some of the features. I have continued to update the website FAQ and have made new videos so at this point, almost all of the questions I receive can be answered by reading it and watching those. Obviously, at the time questions were asked, the answers may not have been there and the questions resulted in me updating the website and making new videos. I hope people understand that I can't sell a niche application for $4 or $5 and provide the same level of support that companies such as OmniGroup that charge $20 to $50 for their apps that appeal to a large audience. If even a small percentage of people that purchased it asked a question that is answered on the web site, I wouldn't have time to answer them all. My goal was 10,000 copies (I believe OmniFocus for the iPhone sold 50,000 copies in the first few months) and I may reach that in 2011 (after over two years) if sales continue at a reasonable pace.

While the pace of new features will definitely slow as Attendance has become fairly full-featured, I still have a few new features planned. So to motivate myself to continue working on it and to continue supporting the application, I am raising the price for new purchases to $4.99. Updates for existing and new users will continue to be free. Given this is a niche app, it will never sell hundreds of thousands of copies like some games do. If I add up all the time spent developing the application and supporting it, I have made somewhere between $10 and $15 an hour. After factoring in self-employment taxes and other marginal tax rates, it doesn't add up to much other than a little extra spending money. Fortunately, I have a separate full-time day job. The increase in price will also help me determine if writing a separate iPad grading application may be worth it. A grading application would be even more of a niche app and would require significantly more time to develop than the original version of Attendance. If people balk at paying five dollars for an attendance application, I know I will not make enough money on a $10 iPad only grading application to make it worth all the time to develop it and support it.

Given that Attendance is an application most people who buy it use numerous times a week, I still think $4.99 is a bargain for the features it has and the amount of use people get from it. Thanks to everyone who has purchased Attendance and told their co-workers about it. I hope it continues to prove useful and saves you time.

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (6)

I am responsible for the teacher attendance at my school, where we allow half sick days and half personal days. Using them makes the percentages meaningless for us, which is fine with us. I would pay you for a copy of the program that doesn't have percentages (it would stop my unionized teachers from freaking out when they are incorrect!)

I would pay even more for a version that didn't list the days present in the email report to a student (or teacher in my case).

October 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Perry

If you haven't already, you should look into using custom statuses for those half days. Obviously, I can't make a custom version with every specific feature that people want so you'll have to ignore the percentages if you don't want them.

Thanks,
Dave

October 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdave256apps

I love this app. I found it way back when it was $2, and I used it for three semesters in Germany. Now that I have one seated class (I have been teaching several online in the past few semesters), I'm happy to be using it again! Just wanted to tell you thank you for creating this app and for doing such a thorough job. It's adaptable for power users and straightforward for casual users (like me--I only click "absent" or "present" and email the spreadsheet report to myself a couple times a week). I would definitely pay $5 for it now, knowing how awesome it is, but I usually like to try a "lite" version before paying $4 or more.

Just wants to give you a pat on the back!

October 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterxgravity23

xgravity23,
Thanks for the kind words. The initial version with just a few features was $2.99. I increased it to $3.99 a few months later after adding custom statuses, and then just a few days ago to $4.99 since I've added many features since then. Given the reviews in iTunes and the videos on my site showing how the app works, most people can get a pretty good idea of how it works before buying it now.

Thanks,
Dave

October 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdave256

Hi Dave,

A colleague at a meeting last week showed me your Attendance App. Very impressive! I teach large lecture classes at Kent State and would really like an App that would show a seating chart for my room (about 190 seats, but in two sections of about 95 each.) I take attendance almost daily from a seating chart on a clipboard. It would be wonderful to have a chart on an iPad that would show several rows at a time (8 seats across, max) and I could touch a name/seat of an absent student, then scroll to the next several rows, and then to the other side of the room. The dates absent would then be stored in an alphabetical file fofr the semester.

Does that make sense?

Jon Secaur
Assistant Professor, Physics
Kent State University

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJon Secaur

Hi Jon,

Yes, I understand what you're asking. A few (less than five) people have asked for a version with a graphical seating chart. The app started as an iPhone app (the iPad was still over a year way when I started it) so I've tried to maintain the same interface on the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone/Touch screen is too small for a graphical representation in my opinion. Attendance does allow you to put the names into any order you want so the order of names could match your seating chart, but they wouldn't be in a two-dimensional grid. While a separate GUI for the iPad would look nice, the app isn't really worth it from a monetary point of view given all the time I've put into it. Because of that, I focus my limited time for the app (I teach computer science full-time at Capital University in Columbus, OH) on new features that add additional functionality vs. fancy GUIs.

Perhaps someone else will write a seating-chart based app, but I suspect not as the market for niche apps really isn't large enough to justify all the development time (unless you charge significantly more than most iOS apps and can still sell a decent number of copies).

Thanks,
Dave

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdave256apps
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.