This afternoon I released a substantial new version of Elements targeted at iOS 7.
Elements is an app with an interesting history. In August of 2010 it shot up the charts and stayed there for a while as one of the first apps to take advantage of the Dropbox SDK for syncing files between devices and your Mac. I quickly followed that up with being the first app to take advantage of Markdown by allowing you to preview your documents and export that HTML to a variety of different places.
Since then times have changed. Competition is fierce in the Markdown/Dropbox text editor space and there are quality apps on both sides of the features to functionality spectrum. I never envisioned Elements to be a swiss-arm knife sort of app that has every bell and whistle you could cram into an iPhone.
I’ve been somewhat complacent with the app the past year as I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I still use it daily, but sales are nowhere near the point where it supports me. At best it makes enough to buy me a decent lunch each day. With iOS 7, the opportunity to re-evaluate the app came up and approached it looked like I had two different options:
- A completely new SKU and calling the iOS 7 refresh Elements 3 or something.
- Harness the power of in-app-purchase and add a few new features going fowrard to bring the app forward.
Option 1 was super tempting and meshes in a lot of ways with my old way of selling Mac-based software. Each new release costs a little bit of money for users to use it. Tempting as it was, I wasn’t completely comfortable doing it for a few reasons. First, this new release isn’t a full-on rewrite. It doesn’t fix a lot of my big idea/long-term things I would want to do to consider the app new SKU worth. Moreover, when you put out a new SKU you lose a lot more than you may gain in short-term financials. Previous rankings are gone. Search placement is reset to zero. Links to the old app likely no longer work either.
Instead, I decided to take option 2. This version of Elements includes an in-app purchase called the “Customization Pack” that adds the ability to edit the CSS theme that Elements uses to match your preferred style. It also allowed users to customize the interface of Elements to match their preferences. It sells for $1.99 on top of the existing investment you made in the core of Elements.
I’m approaching this how you typically buy a car.
When you walk into a dealership, you may know that you want to buy a Ford Focus, but there’s not just a single Ford Focus. There’s the base model the lowest possible price, but you can enhance the car with additional add-ons and upgrades to make it the car you want. That’s how I am approaching traditional software for the forseeable future.
The core of Elements will get you everything you need to create, edit, and preview documents on your devices. If you want to go to the next-level and do some more “pro”-level things, you can enhance the product with these optional in-app purchases.
Will it work? I have no idea, but it’s worth a shot.