The coffee-app paradox

I am browsing the latest apps today with strong focus on games and new office tools as usual. I see this and that – one or two new releases catch my attention. I start reading the ratings, a bit of the description. That app right there sounds really useful; I look at the buy button and see the price tag: about 79 cents. I hesitate, rethink and glance at my current store balance. The funds are there, I could buy 10 of these apps until I would need to re-up!
Yet – I don’t! I am considering, but I don’t buy today. Up to this point, I agree, this story is not even remotely interesting or remarkable and you might just now ask yourself, did I waste 5 precious minutes of my life for this useless story?

The app-side

Now this is where it starts to get interesting. I promise. So, in contrast to the prior story about surfing the app store and not buying anything I would like to tell another short story. In the end you might notice the interesting aspect yourself. Maybe you realize how you yourself do the same – or the opposite – and share with me below in the comments. Or you are actually creating and offering one of the products I mentioned and come up with ideas to optimize your success.

As I would like to train my writing skills I will go further into detail, please bare with me. The procedure of me browsing the App Store happens probably about 2-3 times a week. I added funds to the account, mainly because I got a gift card. So, I might not be the most desirable client in general. But since then I bought a couple apps and a bunch of games. I bought cheap ones and some that cost more than the usual low price of 79 cents. 79 Cents! I have to repeat again: 79 cents.

I am a game developer, working in browser games development for a huge company in Hamburg Germany. Sorry for this self promotion, I am hoping for a couple more hits to my portfolio. We are doing what has been referred to as the next big thing: Free 2 play. This is not really relevant here, but it’s also an area, just like the app market, where many developers earn their living with. And with living I mean not much more. Except some of the positions in game development – let’s say there are jobs in the world that pay much more. But on the other hand, this industry is exciting and never boring; it’s about fun and play. I wouldn’t trade it – not even for more money. (Ok, to be honest, maybe for 100 times that – yes.) So, now I have been offered phone software that might make my life easier, or give me a couple hours or even weeks of great entertainment. A game that excites me while waiting for the bus, an app that lets me organize my tasks or helps me keep track of my little design freelancing I do in addition to my full time job. There are and have been a few great examples for apps that really helped me in the past. Some of them are even totally free. But, just like last week, sitting in the bus to work in the morning, I decided to -not- spend those 79 cents.

The coffee-side

So, as mentioned before I am in the bus, on my way to work. Not that early but early enough to be in desperate need of a coffee. Every couple days I pass this classy looking coffee place, I wander in, still half asleep and order a coffee latte – a strong espresso with hot milk and a little cream on top, maybe add a little flavor – it depends. This will get me through the early hours of the day, sharpen my thoughts, and make me cheerful. The woman at the cashier is friendly, asks me for a rebate card, I hand it over. I can see that I am almost there, every couple days I got a coffee and soon will be entitled to a free one. Probably next time.

So, I take the cardboard cup that’s not small but also not a tall, it actually feels a little small for being labeled large! So, anyway, my hands go searching through my pockets, I feel a couple coins. The woman says € 3, 40 – Here we go! Thanks have a nice day.

Wait – what? I must have just paid € 3, 40 for a cup of coffee, and I didn’t even flinch, it didn’t take more than 5 seconds to hand over the funds. And according to my rebate card I must have done that every two days now!

Do I need to outline the actual paradox here? Or do you agree that its somewhat strange how I have been struggling with 79 cents for an app earlier, while spending 4 times the amount every second day, for a coffee, that lasts for about an hour max. I think that’s weird, don’t you?

Clearly, the software would have a longer life span, if it’s half decent. Still the massively trending and overpriced coffee wins. Why is that? I’ll hopefully come up with some ideas about that the next time. Thanks for reading.

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