snovak's blog

Donations, Donations! Paid, In-app, vs Freemium payment models?

Here I am, days away from my final release of my first app.  Currently, I'm developing the payment system.  And only now, I'm really thinking about the different pay models available for apps. 

 I'm obviously not taking a long break from working a "day job" to build this app because "I think it's a good idea."  I DO want to get paid and build a business about it.  But, as a developer and artist, I've never been very good with business, or asking people for money for that matter.  So, the question comes... What do I charge for this thing, which I've been working so hard on for months?  How do I ask for the money that I need to continue to provide content and upgrades?  Do I charge at all???

That last question is what is nagging me.  Some might known it as, the "Freemium" model.  Where some developer choose to go the in-app advertising path.  That's not at all what I'm speaking of here.  What I want is a win-win.. all the way.  So I started to research it, which surprisingly, there's very little coverage of a pure "Donations Model".  

One of the first times I've heard of this donations only method of profit is from Dan Carlin's - Hardcore History series of podcasts, which I highly recommend you listen to.  (Try this instead of watching "American Idol" in the afternoon..... sinner blushangelwink).  It is surprising to hear, straight from Dan Carlin, that this works!  To give your content freely and people offer up their money in return, without the price tag!  Really?  I'm skeptical, but I can't help but think about it.  

I HAVE listened to Hardcore History, and enjoyed it VERY much.  I have had every good intention of donating.... but in the end, I have not.  Though, I probably wouldn't have listened to the podcast in the first place, had it not been for the freemium model.  And, then I wouldn't be struggling with the thought about giving Dan money right this very moment.  Dan wants his podcast listened to by the widest audience possible.  Just as I want my app installed on every single Canes fan device.

Will giving the app away, bundled with the "poor developer plea" psycologically play on the user's sense of benevolence and compassion?  Will the user feel compelled to offer up a fee, more or less than what I would have charged ($2.99), and feel good about it?  Alternatively, do Canes fans feel they aught to pay for officially licensed content in the first place?  And, am I over analysing?

I'll stop there.  But, I'm intersted to hear any feedback. 

Notes:  I'm farily confident that charging for the app up front, the "Paid" model, is not the way to go..  For a strong bit of supporting evidence, you need only to look at the Top Grossing Apps in the Google Play and Apple stores.  They are all Free, In-app purchase supported.  I wonder which, if any in the list run off donations?


Daily Log

THIS, TODAY, is the day where I "finally commit" to start logging my progress as a developer and development as an overall human being. This is mostly for me, not necessarily for you, however you are.  I've read and listened to many books or podcasts touting the benefits of writing daily logs. Especially in the morning, to clear your mind of distractions, set your direction, and clarify your purpose. That's my aim today, and going forward.

A short catch up in the development and business space; I'm building a business! This business's core mission is to develop quality content for licensed properties/identities. Yes, that means I need to submit for and attain licenses from license holders, for their permission to use their identity and content in my app(s). And yes, I/we/Novak Corp was granted such license from University of Miami!

I'm building an Android Live Wallpaper condensed around the Miami Hurricanes, designed to promote their brand, their tribe of fans whenever someone flips on their Android cell phone or tablet device. Why develop licensed properties vs developing unique content that I can own you ask? For one, I'm building a business for me, and later my family to join. I'm not looking for this thing to get huge. I'm not looking for investors, it's all self funded. I'm looking to build something that will support us and enable the freedom to do and go where we please, when we please, all while continuing to build business. SO, what does that have to do with licensed content? Marketing and content development mostly. That is all largely done for me/us. I don't need to create some amazing brand, spend millions of dollars to get "followers" or "fans". It's done, out of the box. UM has an existing fan base, me being one of them! I know Canes fans, lots of them. I know where they hang out, and ultimately, I know what they want. Or, at least I think I do. I guess we'll find out won't we?

I can't link to the demo just yet. But, I'll tell you it's all done in ThreeJS.  And, I surely will link the demo once the final product is approved and in production on the Android Play Market.

I've been working a lot lately with libGDX to build out the production app.  There is a huge loss in translation, coming from JavaScript/ThreeJS to Java/libGDX.  libGDX is lower level in a lot of ways.  In ThreeJS, you can pretty much count on building and exporting the models, linking your textures (diffuse, normal, spec, what have you), and it all working as expected.  Building the demo, was quick and easy, and largely set my expectations for the work to come with building the production app.  No so much.  In libGDX, there is a default shader, but it's largely considered a fallback if your shader breaks for some reason.  That means, you get your hands dirty with foreign languages like GLSL and controlling the drawing routines in OpenGL.  Let's not forget the inherent differences between Java and JavaScript.  While I've run into a couple of spots where I had to push to find solutions to problems do to a lack of exposure to Java specific constructs, those solutions come easier then trying to wrap my head around the intense 3D calculations, equations, and algorithms encompassed in OpenGL and GLSL.  I'll be dealing more with this stuff soon enough. 

On a personal level, over the last couple of months, I've been refocusing on my health.  And slipping from time to time.  But, I'm rebounding again and Blogging will help keep me honest, I think/hope.  I'm currently reading Ray Kurtzweil's "The Fantastic Voyage, Live long enough to live forever".  Ray is amazing in more ways then one, as is Tim Ferriss, author of the "Four Hour Work Week".  These two sources combined direct most of my health and diet choices.  These guys boarder on super human.  I'm just trying not to suck. 

One cool addition is my treadmill.  It's an old Cybex treadmill "hand-me-down" from my wife's parents.  I modded it into a stand-up workstation with the addition of a shoe rack from IKEA.  It fit perfect!  And, looks like the treadmill was manufactured this way.  I used some existing screws and holes to mount the shoe rack, and added a couple more supports for good measure to hold up my Macbook Pro.  The poor Macbook, the battery doesn't have much more juice to last more than an hour.  Nor do I.  :-/

At any rate, this helps get me active in the morning.  Boosting my heart rate, getting the juices flowing.  It's way better than sitting in a chair for 8 hours.  I need to use it more consistently, but it's ready to go when I find the motivation to get off my ass. 

I'm starting to log my food intake through MyFitnessPal.  In Tim Ferriss's latest podcast, Ray... suggested that, while this is a pain in the ass, you learn where all of the hidden sugar is in your diet.  Ray Kurtzweil also lays out an ideal balance of Protein vs Fat vs Carbs that should be in your diet.  I think, with Ray's recommendations, and to tools available in MyFitnessPal, I can strike a good balance in my diet, as well as, stick to the routine of finding and eating quality food. 

My text-to-speech workflow for PDFs

Here's my workflow for sucking the sweet juices of knowledge out of PDFs and eBooks in general....

  • download and install it.
  • Calibre does a great job of converting PDF to EPUB.  It keeps the images and text formatting intact.
  • Then you can upload that to your personal library on Google Books.

The magic of this process; Your mobile device can now read it to you while you drive!  Google Books App has a text-to-speech feature.  While it is imperfect, it is understandable.  I have an hour drive back and forth to work.. Someone once asked me where I found the time to know and do as much as I do and know. This is ONE thing I do to maximize my day

Basically,  I have forced study/self betterment time every day, 2 hours a day. It's a clever work around for my lack of discipline. cheeky 

Though, I find that books for learning code are tough to follow. Ever have someone try to read code to you? HA!  What it IS good for is a rough overview of the book. If you can get through it once with a machine reading it to you; You have a good idea of what you're getting into when you sit down with it and go through the examples. It's a decent way to get through books like that and retain the content therein.



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