All of a sudden your common-or-garden E71 has been transformed into a hive of interactivity.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What were you using before Gravity?Ã¢â‚¬Â I asked one Nokia employee.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I, er, was using mobile.twitter.com,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said, head hung in shame.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So Gravity’s changing your life then?Ã¢â‚¬Â 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in my honest opinion Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœTwitter 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.
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 www.mobileways.de 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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.