Revenue model for apps that sync folders

At the beginning of this millennium too often I saw that people were disqualified because they were involved with the internet and communication technique. For instance an urban father at the countryside in the municipality of Roden (Drenthe, the Netherlands) was denied custody of his son, because he was involved as a professional programmer at Rabobank in international paying traffic for small and medium sized companies.

I was the guy that underlined the importance to always have his personal files at hand. So that he could show as needed:

  • His birth certificate
  • Identity with photo’s
  • Certificates of his craftsmanship
  • Testimonials from landlords that he is a good tenant and
  • Show the possession of contracts that must be complied with

So a plan was worked out to sync files on each computer system with a fileserver. I made guidelines to ensure that files are kept in sync if the user updates a file on one of his devices. The motivation was to ensure that the rights of honest people are respected. Also a goal was to make android a success.

Later on, using these written and unwritten guidelines, the company brought several sync apps on the market that implemented the guidelines. As the system designer, I was one of the first users of the Pro edition of DriveSync Pro and DropSync Pro.

At the moment the DriveSync app for Gdrive has 500 thousand users, as the FolderSync app for Onedrive. The DropSync app has more than a million users. The paid versions DropSync pro plus FolderSync Pro (€3,29) are sold more than 200 thousand times. The numbers of the DriveSync Pro version have remained unknown for the public by means of handy in-app sale. So the system design is quite a success.

November 2017 suddenly a shadow came over the application: without previous notice, multiple folders disappeared from the sync list in the DriveSync Pro app. Unwanted advertising showed up. A message asked for an additional €4,99 to enable the use of the app as before. For an unspecified period of time. To be free of further payments, the amount of €9,99 is asked.

As the design of the system, the work of converting this to solid apps also is time-consuming. Some maintenance needs to be done so that the apps continue to work safely. This costs. I never asked for royalties. Annual payment is the revenue model that best suits the customer. If the subscription is not cancelled, the automatic extension of the time period can be assumed.

In this way, the annual costs can be lower than the € 4.99 that are now being charged. A clear explanation of the subscriber model in the Google Play store is asked for. So that the buyer knows the contract base: the subscription form with annual payment. Then there will no longer be an unexpected interruption in the service. With the business model as described, I wish good luck.

Bert Kerkhof

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