iOS 7 (multiple iPhones, flat 002)

In a few months, Apple will release the largest update to its mobile operating system since the original iPhone debuted in 2007: iOS 7. The software has been virtually rebuilt from the ground-up, with new features and an all-new user interface.

Because this new version of iOS is so different than its predecessor, developers will have to spend a serious amount of time bringing their app code and UI elements up to speed. The question is, should they charge users for these major updates?

The question was first posed by Gedeon Maheux of Iconfactory, who is behind Twitterrific and other apps:

“I’m sure many users are expecting developers of popular applications to simply update interface elements, compile some code and easily drop a brand spanking new version of their app onto the App Store for free. There’s little doubt that the majority of iOS 7 updates to existing apps will be free (which will please Apple), but I suspect there will be a surprising number of developers who will use the launch of the new operating system to completely re-boot their app, and why not? The visual and interactive paradigms iOS 7 mark a natural breaking off point and a perfect opportunity to re-coup costs. Some existing paid apps might even adopt an iOS 7 only strategy which means they’ll have no choice but to charge again.”

Before we tackle the question at hand, it’s important to look at some of the economics of the App Store. Developers like Rovio and Imanji are very much the minority—even those with very popular apps rarely see anything close to $1 million in sales.

The reality is that they have to deal with issues like piracy and copycatting, and the never-ending ‘race to the bottom’ that has forced many devs to price their apps well below what they’d like. According to Flurry, the average iPhone app goes for $0.19.

So with all of this in mind, would I pay for iOS 7 updates for apps I already own? Yes. Admittedly, I will make the choice on a case-by-case basis. But if a paid app I use frequently gets completely rebuilt for iOS 7, I will happily pay again to update it.

What about you, would you pay for iOS 7 updates for apps you already own? Why or why not?

  • McGreenwood

    What about apple?! The could pay the developers!
    The earned enough on every sale since 2007! 😉

  • Mike Paterson

    In the PC & Mac Desktop world when a certain piece of software is updated there is a charge but only on a major update, as in Photoshop, Office, or any other title from one such version to another. On the Desktop that has become the norm or standard.
    However, what you do not get on Desktop software is if the OS is updated there is then also an additional increase in these same software titles. If Desktop Publishers were to charge extra for their titles every time Microsoft or Apple updated their OS the general public would soon be up in arms.
    The big difference though between the Desktop and Mobile software prices is that with Mobile software every time there is a general or major update there is no additional charge. You buy it initially and it is then free for future updates. Can you imagine the developers of Photoshop or Microsoft Office giving their titles away every time there is a major update…… I don’t think so.
    So, have we Mobile users become accustomed to getting ‘free updates’, yes we have and should it change……. Yes it should. Something has to change. Mobile software is becoming ever and ever more deeper and sophisticated. Sometime along the line there will have to be a new look at how we pay for Mobile software…. Maybe this is one of those times?

  • CPVideoMaker101

    How about we worry about stability issues with the betas instead if I would pay 99 cents for an app.

  • pokaprophet

    Staying on iOS 6.1.2 until iOS 7 is jailbroken. At that stage if an app I’ve already paid for has an iOS 7 update charged for that brings no new functionality I’ll either go to a competing app or get what’s rightfully mine free again. If there is new content I want and the price reasonably reflects this then yes.

  • momerathe

    the new backgrounding and wake-from-sleep capabilities of iOS7 will determine it for me. Does an update just change the shiny? no, I won’t pay. Does it bring real functionality improvements? then I’ll at least consider it.

  • Phil Randle

    Not if its just a Graphical Interface update, If I am to pay for an app again, I would expect it to be like a desktop app, and be a 2.0 release that has been redesigned from the ground up.

    Just like with any MAC app, you will receive updates for the life off that update, but when a version 2 is released you will sometimes be required to purchase again.

    One that I happily did that with was Alfred, phenomenal app its it first instance, I used it heavily so when the Version 2 had been redesigned and I had to pay again I was fine with it.

  • Cesar D

    So i’ll keep in iOS 4.2.1 and stop paying one thousand more for this.

  • Tommmy

    > even those with very popular apps rarely see anything close to $1 million in sales.


  • Bah humbug

    Um No. im not going to pay for something i already own, i dont care If apples made their code differnt. If my app Stops working in ios 7 after ive paid for it, then a deveoloper should Make the updates. Or at least apple should impliment better backwards combatabilty

  • Loopthree

    This entire article suggests that most apps will be ‘completely rebuilt’. Why?. I get the feeling that the author started with the obvious iDB answer ‘yes I would buy apps again’, and then wrote this article to justify it.

  • Michael Jack

    I know that in economic terms times are hard and being a student I appreciate that, having said that I feel like there is a lot of – for want of a better term – cheap ass people out there.

    I really don’t think a lot of you appreciate how much time/ effort and passion goes into making some of the apps you people love and probably use/ depend on many times a day. A lot of these devs are doing this on their own or in teams of a few people and they kill themselves continually adding new features (a lot of which were probably requested by you people anyway) and they do this all for free.

    People will argue that you pay for an app so why shouldn’t we get updates like this for free. Well for a start the majority of apps cost almost nothing, under about £3, how much new content do you honestly think you deserve for that amount of money? Secondly, if these guys were to develop software commercially then any new features added to the software would cost the client, yet we get Adaptive Maintenance for free.

    Personally, I agree with Cody I am willing to pay for iOS 7 versions of apps but that would be decided on an app-by-app basis.

    Stop being scrooges, we’re literally only taking about you paying pennies in most cases to buy weeks/ months of hard work. I don’t see any of you people designing and coding these apps…

  • Just wait for jailbreak…

  • Yuri

    The problem is that i have apps that was $50 so it will make me mad if i will have to pay for the same app a second time

  • Ricky

    No problem most of my app i got it free during christmas haha maybe this time i need to pay for it

  • O Al Marar

    I paid more than 300$ for apps

  • Evoss Koss

    NEVER !!! RIPOFF !!!

  • Matt Taylor

    Lately I feel that all Apple ever try to do is rinse more money out of people! We’ve already paid top dollar for our hardware and remain faithful buying most refreshes, and now we may have to pay Again for apps we rightfully own just because Apple decided to completely change iOS without anyone’s approval!

    Wtf can’t Apple, and developers for that matter have enough intelligence to include multiple themes iOS6 or iOS7 and you could choose which one you prefer on device set up and purchase an apps iOS7 theme via an in app purchase! It’s so f*!king backwards!

  • Matt Taylor

    Anyway this won’t happen! People on iOS6 will never be forced to pay again to update their apps and Apple/Developers can’t force people to update to iOS7! If that happen, all hell would break loose!

    All that will happen is certain greedy developers will abandon current versions of their app and release paid sequels!

  • westerveld

    Race to the bottom and forced many devs to price their apps well below what they’d like, is a bit naive in my opinion. Also putting the blame on piracy and “copycatting” (which is impossible not to and therefore the term itself in this context is questionable) is a pretty bold statement. The eco-system has a lot more to do with it and it is also one of the reasons why it thrives.
    It is just time to clean up and move forward and yes there will be a lot of people who will loose, making room for others.

  • JamesR624

    So… would I be willing to pay for ugly, hard to see, shitty versions of Apps I already bought? Is this a trick question or something?

  • Andrew Roth

    All descriptions specifically say free updates for life.

  • joro_abv

    If Apple doesn’t make any drastic changes to the final version – I wouldn’t even upgrade to iOS7, before I’m forced to do it. This is simply because iOS7 is so ugly … so probably this answers the question – no, definitely I won’t pay for an absolutely forced/unnecessary update of any app.

  • Pim Oomen

    No I definitely won’t, it’s just not fair, I don’t think it’s that much more work worth selling an update for the normal price…

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    How about No.

  • nattey nattson

    Better to use crack apps than… XD

  • Dan

    If they do this they’re asking to be pirated… I would not pay twice for the same app

  • ExRoot

    Remember when Apple charged $9.99 for the an iOS update. iPhone users didn’t have to pay but iPod touch owners paid $10. That was a terrible business decision. I paid it but was pissed. Would never do that again. Does anybody remember what version that was?

    • Think it was for like iOS 3.1.4…

    • mehrab

      Just remeber it added iphone apps to the ipod

      • ExRoot


      • mehrab

        I dont remember which ersion it was but im sure that it added the iphone apps to the touch for e.g stocks weather. Etc

  • Fck no! I never said I wanted iOS 7 (nor 6 for that matter), but I’m forced to install it if I ever have any uncalled for issues with my iPhone or upgrade to a new iPhone that supported earlier firmwares; no option to go back to iOS 5.1.1.

    So, why should I be paying the price for what I never wanted in the first place? If that’s the case, no more sympathy for devs ever again; just turning to complete piracy to fight fire with fire.

  • Viktor_Zweig

    No! I paid once for the app and unless there is a significant change in app’s functionality. Like the app does something new and developper sells it as second iteration.
    Similar stunt was pulled by the developpers of Tapatalk app when they introduced the second version…

  • nyangejr

    Whatsapp is free lifetime for early adopters
    tell em we got our rights

  • Chindavon

    I don’t see Apple allowing devs to up-charge their apps that people have already purchased, just because of the iOS 7 change and challenges that face them. Would be a really bad business move, especially at this stage of the tech economy.

  • blastingbigairs

    I’m not even thinking about IOS 7 until there is an untethered jailbreak anyway. Who would????

  • Stc Nexrophiliex

    “IF” I do update to iOS 7 I’ll be waiting until its able to jailbreak so if there are apps that I have that they want me to pay for over again, there’s usually some kind of solution past that.

  • quitcherbichinn


  • ThunderLord

    No way. I’d prefer moving to Android and buy a Samsung S4 then, and there pay for all apps again!

  • Al

    This is one of the many reasons I’m hating on iOS7. Long live skeuomorphism!!!

  •  Rich 

    I could see that happening. For instance, the iTunes store and it’s ringtones. If you download a ringtone, and then something happens before you back your phone up again, you have to pay for the ring tone again. which is absolutely stupid, in my opinion. After that first encounter, I just went back to making my own or using the default tone. That’s one thing I wish iOS 7 implemented, better alert tones and ring tones. currently the default ones are the only ones native on the phone that don’t suck, once again, in my opinion. But to answer the main question, I will refuse to pay for an app all over again. I will drop tweetbot, and just use the basic twitter app. I don’t really play games on my phone anymore, so angry birds and all that stuff will just be left behind.

  • @dongiuj

    Updates are free. Make a separate application and see if people will buy it.

  • Falk M.

    Hmm… I have hundreds of apps, even if only 10 or 20 of them want on everage one buck from me, that’d be quite the pay day for simply upgrading my iOS version. Much rather I’d say they could have a small charge (say 10 cents) per year to upgrade. But don’t give me that in app purchase bullcrap, I want completely offline restorable apps.
    Maybe if in app purchases were backed up by iTunes I’d consider them safe, but being solely tied to a server to restore… nope.

    But yeah, repaying for a good chunk of apps in a short time, not gonna happen.

  • fasih

    If thats the case, hell NO to iOS 7 update!!

  • James Ray

    completely depends on the app, how much i use it, and whether or not the iOS 7 version is worth the money.

  • Perry Tanko

    The jump from iOS6 to iOS7 is not like the jump from System7 to the new MACOS though.

  • AlanII

    It would depend on the App. If I genuinely valued it then I’d pay, if I didn’t then I’d drop it (though frankly, I probably have already).

  • Jimmy Wade

    Yes. If I use it or like it. if you don’t like the upgrade don’t download. Kind of tired of cry babies. It’s your choice. Your not going to make or brake Apple either way.

  • Niam Patani


  • Alessandro

    No, because I dont like the iOS 7 design.

  • Dianne Days

    I am on a fixed income and have a lot of music apps and cannot afford to keep paying to update my apps. Would love to have the new ios 7 but I guess Apple doesn’t really care about those of us who don’t have unlimited resources.

  • summerwind232001

    yes if it is totally(mostly at least) different features. If it is only minor update, i will feel that i been rob. Changed of Iphone 5 interface causing my £2++ sound system half useless. Again, now IOS7… I think it will be quicker if ‘Take’ from the bank