How Much Will You Pay for iPad Apps?

How much will you pay for iPad apps? Steve Jobs said the iPad was a new category between the iPhone and the laptop, so will iPad software be a new category between the two as well?

PC software for Windows or Mac can range from free to well over a thousand dollars for a suite -- looking at you Adobe CS5 -- or more. iPhone apps on the other hand have raced to the bottom, with free being common and cheap being the biggest alternative. Most apps hover around $0.99. Only a few apps dare go over $5, let along $10 or more.

Apple might have given us some indication with the pricing they announced for their iWork productivity apps for iPad. On the Mac, iWork is bundled at $79 for a single license and $99 for a 5 license family pack [Apple Online Store link]. On the iPad, the apps won't be bundled. Pages (word processing), Keynote (presentation), and Numbers (spreadsheet), will each be sold separately for $9.99. There's no single or family license; just like with iPhone apps (or iTunes DRM content) you'll be able to install them on up to 5 authorized devices.

By contrast, iPhone and iPod touch productivity suites currently cost $14.99 for QuickOffice [iTunes link] or Documents to Go [iTunes link]

So, roughly, $99 gets you 5 Macs with iWork while $30 gets you 5 iPads with iWork, and puts the price scale for iPad apps significantly higher than iPhone apps (200%) but significantly cheaper than Mac apps (30%).

We'll know more when we start to see what third party developers charge for Mac/Windows apps they bring to the iPad, and for iPhone and iPad touch apps that are ported over as well.

In the meantime, let us know what you think. Edge cases aside, what would you consider a fair price for a quality app on the iPad?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How Much Will You Pay for iPad Apps?


It really depends on the content of the app but i would be willing to pay $2.00 for a casual app and $15-20 for something more thought out.

I dont plan to purchase anything that I cant use on my phone. As all (or most) iPhone apps are suppose to be compatible with the iPad, I wouldnt purchase something to use on just one device.
I dont plan to use the iPad for anything other than surfing the web. If I need to do any real computing, i.e. word, spreadsheets, photo editing, etc.. I will jump on my desktop as I have always done.

Considering how closed and limited the iPad is, it's not surprising apps are cheaper.
Fair price.. lets say $20 for quality apps, $50 max for suites, $15 those without cloud functionality, and under $10 for the rest.
I'm still curious about console ports.. game companies will probably go nuts and start pricing the games around $30..
But, I'm no expert on pricing, software sales, or Steve jobs mind, so let's see what happens :)

There's only one app I forsee myself NEEDING is one that will allow me to print of my iWork documents from my wifi printer.
Maybe pay £2-£3
No more than that ...
Maybe need for speed too lol

The most I've ever paid for an app was logmein for 19.99, the rest were a few games for 9.99 when the app store first opened, now my limit is prob around 4.99 but if I had an ipad I might have bought pages, seems like it would have been nice to use to take notes in class

@dionte Just curious, but how would you plan on taking those notes? My concern about this device is that i'd not want to do anything that requires much input. Yes, you could use a kb, but then why not take that light laptop or netbook? I think of the iPad as a reader device in general.
@Magnus You can't really say that until you've seen those iphone apps on a 10" screen. I see iPad app purchases in your future.
Oops..back to topic. No, i wouldn't pay more for iPad apps..generally. I put them in the same class as iphone apps.

iPhone users have been spoiled with a deluge of cheap or free apps. Those of us with past experience using Palm and WM devices remember paying $15-20 per app, sometimes as much as $30 or more. Given the pricing conditioning of iPhone users and, thus, expectations of minimal cost for apps, I think developers are going to have to come in with iPhone app-comparable pricing, probably averaging out in the $4.99 price range.

@iBri Ya and vcr's where $50,000 in the 50's. Times have changed. The development,distribution of app's have also changed. To many people living in the frigin past.

I deffinitely wouldn't pay more for iPad apps than for iPod touch apps. Simply because the iPod touch is just an iPad Nano...

im willing to pay 10 dollars for the pages app. and i will be purchasing the line2 app and pay 15 dollars a month for the service. its gunna be a family device. i got the 32 gb version which will be loaded with all my games ive bought for my iphone, my dad will use the line2 app whenever the hospital pages him and make calls over wifi with line2. im going to purchase a ibooks (not to mention the thousands of free gutenberg books) i really cant wait for april 3rd :)

I'm pretty sure you can install apps on ALL iPhone OS devices that are connected to any of up to 5 authorized computers. Not a limit of 5 authorized devices. Not that any family is likely to have more than 5 such devices anyway. (Although our 1st iPad will make device #5 for us.)

I am not worried about the $1-$3 apps, but I have one $33 app on my iPhone that I would definitely not want to buy again for an iPad.It's the F1 2010 Timing Application. I have some other apps in the $5-$10 range that I wouldn't repurchase just because they do all I need on the iPhone. I don't know what the policy will be, but am concerned.

GaryK, no worries. You don't have to repurchase apps unless you exceed the 5-device limit. When you sync your iPad to your iTunes account, you will be able to install the same apps that you've been using on your iPhone -- that's my understanding, anyway. :)

I think Apple has already set my pricing expectations based on what they're charging for the iWork programs. If a program does more than pages, I'd pay more for it. But generally any app that has an iPhone and an iPad app, the iPad app could get away with costing more if it adds some functionality, much like the base apps do.

As a developer, I'm certainly hoping to see higher prices for iPad apps. Not a ton higher, but it's really hard to form a business model around $.99 apps. And hard to make a case for a larger team and more resources to make a more complex, more polished product. Hard to make a case for niche products as well. One good place to start would be a $3.00 minimum for paid iPad apps. If prices were in the $3 to $10 range instead of all clustered around 99 cents, it'd be a lot easier to make a living as an independent developer.

Casual "I don't care" apps ≤$1.99.
Games of good quality ≤$6.00
Productivity apps ≤$15.00
All depends on quality/support and uniqueness.

0.00 dollars for me. I'm holding out for the HP Slate and will install my existing software. I would never invest in such limited hardware as the maxi-pad.

I'll buy pages and keynote, and will probably keep other purchases to $5 a couple times a month maybe. Just skip starbucks a couple days to make up for it... But again, it all depends on how much functionality there is and how much I need it.

$10 is the magic number. Apple ensured this when they announced their iWork apps at $10 each.

just like with iPhone apps (or iTunes DRM content) you’ll be able to install them on up to 5 authorized devices.

I think you will find there is no limit on the number of devices you may install a app on. And there is no limit on the number of devices you may associate with an iTunes account. A single app license covers all devices associated with an iTunes account.

I agree that it depends on the app, etc. For productivity apps that I think I will really use, I've spent up to $25 on the iPad but I typically spend much less on the iPhone because I often find I can't get the same level of usefulness there.
I love it when I come across a universal app, but those are so rare now. I just bought one (LifeTopix) that I probably wouldn't have purchased if it wasn't a universal app. Glad I did though because it's such a great app. I think they were smart to go with that pricing model.