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Why Mobileways were right to price Gravity at $10

At the Nokia dinner I was at last night, a large percentage of the room was Twittering away using Gravity, the new Twitter client from developers, Mobileways. They were loving it.

All of a sudden your common-or-garden E71 has been transformed into a hive of interactivity.

“What were you using before Gravity?” I asked one Nokia employee.

“I, er, was using,” he said, head hung in shame.

“So Gravity’s changing your life then?” I ask.

Nodding vigorously, he proceeds to show me around the Gravity client with a mix of joy and pure excitement. He’d found out at Gravity only this week — tried it out and bought it the same day.

Here’s a screenshot:

But there’s been trouble brewing across the internet.

Mobileways have been more or less vilified in some quarters for daring to charge $10 for their work.

You pay $10 for the Gravity client and then it’s tied to your IMEI — so if you swap phones or operate multiple S60 devices, you have to shell out another $10 for each handset.

James Whatley over at All About Symbian posted a reasoned argument stating that this was too expensive:

How much?! £7?! £7.25 to be precise. That’s how much. £7.25 for a single application. One. One application. Seven. English. Pounds.

This – in my honest opinion – is too much.

James goes on to point out that the iPhone-crowd are used to paying around 0-£3 per application.

Take a brand new N95-owning average Joe and his iPhone-owning mate. They’ve both heard of this ‘Twitter thing’ and they both want the best app for the job. Your iPhone man goes for Tweetie and spends his $2.99, while our N95 friend goes for Gravity. Now, who’s actually going to tell me that the N95 user is going to be happy with the 400% increase in price for what is ostensibly the same app. Anyone?

That there is your Symbian tax.

It’s quite simple.

Downloading and paying for Gravity (or any other S60 application) is an absolutely 100% nightmare. It’s a total rigmarole and one that every single team member at the Symbian Foundation (and those responsible at Nokia) should be utterly, utterly ashamed of.

It’s pathetic.

Mobileways can’t get away with charging the $2.99 iPhone Tweetie cost. They can’t. It’s just too difficult.

If you REALLY want Gravity on your phone, then you’ll need to work for it. You’ll need to go online to and get out your credit card (or PayPal). You’ll need to download the application to your machine. Then you’ll need to transfer it to your phone — and make sure you choose the right one. Then you need to open up the application and lock it to your IMEI.

Then you’re good.

The reality is that next to nobody will do this. If you’re looking for proof, just do a Twitter search for Gravity and marvel at the amount of people admiring the app but who are not prepared to pay for it.

When even the most die-hard S60 fans cannot be bothered to fork out the cash for Gravity, despite having tried it and seen just how well engineered it is, you’ve got a problem.

Mobileways got it right. They have to price it at $10 because of the attrition rate. Because it’s *SO* difficult to sell it — because they need to get some kind of return for their hard work.

The Symbian die-hards should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

There’s a reason nobody in their right mind develops for S60 at the moment: You can’t monetise it.

And when you make a brilliant, brilliant piece of software for the S60 audience, what do they do? They don’t buy it.

This is all set to change with the introduction of Nokia’s Ovi Store. That is looking like it could well deliver significant iTunes-style results and bring about a renaissance in S60 development.

Meantime, if you’re a die-hard Symbian fan, and you use Twitter, let me ask this question and pose this instruction:

Would you buy Gravity for $2.99?

If you answer yes, then go and buy it for $10 (roughly £7). Buy it now. That extra money you’re having to pay? That’s the Symbian tax. That’s the danger money that the developer has to claim back. It’s your duty to support and reward the developer.

Use it or lose it.

Right now there’s a lot of money circling mobile applications. The overwhelming majority is going straight into iPhone development because of the guaranteed route to cash. There’s a lot of people I know looking at the Ovi Store and thinking. Thinking about whether or not to invest the cash, or whether to leave Ovi standing on it’s own outside the iTunes App Store party.

The last thing a mobile developer wants to read are S60 users complaining about the cost of buying applications.

I would hope that Mobileways will be able to reduce the cost of Gravity to compete with similarly priced iPhone apps once the Nokia Ovi Store goes live.

But meantime, support the developer. Support, support, support the developer.

Original post by admin and software by Elliott Back


  1. I've been using Ole's software for the last 6 years at least, and it has always been well written. But creating any Symbian application is costly in time and money. He has to afford to create the apps, he can't live on thin air.

    Three years ago he just stopped developing commercial apps and after waiting for a Symbian 9.x version of Remote I eventually had to buy an inferior product. But he's come back with an immensely strong update to RemotePro and now a great Twitter client. We all need to support small developers otherwise their skills and innovation will just vanish. With EMCC having just gone bust the last thing we need in the Symbian space is for another developer to disappear.

  2. Well argued and crafted piece.

    I was not going to buy the full priced version of Gravity – but after reading this – I think that I shall!!

    Well done Ewan (doing your bit for the Symbian software developers of this planet).

    However – I do think that pricing the app at a third of the price would lead to many more than three times the sales!

  3. +1 for Gravity…. same price as a bottle of wine or a few beers. Like Tim says, good software is worth something.

    I do like dabr though: simple, functional, and free.

  4. Well done.
    All this “it should cost less” moaning seems to be because competiton for iFart apps on Apples store has driven the *headline* average cost downwards, but the apple market is different. Part of the Apple culture is to buy applications, and i think this is one of the major contributors to the success of the App Store.

    Also, i remember reading a comment recently (i think on twitter) that moving to a new handset would not involve a cost (you needed to email him directly ?), so the tying to IMEI is not such a big thing.

  5. I've used photo software for years, called Graphic Converter. The developer has always been very understanding through my OS/hardware upgrade trials, and has never quibbled about new licences for new machines. As a result, I have happily purchased every proper upgrade (as opposed to patch) to the app – 3 times now I think in 8 years.

    To the dweebs who think everything should be free – you gets what you pays for.

  6. presumably the route to market isn't only their website? If it is, then they've got a much bigger problem than the price point. The site, for anyone other than a total geek, is a train wreck…

  7. I'm paying for Gravity simply because I believe it's the best Twitter application made for any mobile OS. Looking forward to future S60 software from this developer.


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