Experimenting with The End of Freemium

We’ve always done a lite and paid version of our apps. The lite version was free with one-tenth the content. The paid version was a small price of $2 to $5. We thought if people would try the apps, they would know and understand the value and buy the upgrade. We enjoyed a good conversion rate on the markets. With 10 apps on the markets, it is becoming harder to manage and maintain a lite and paid version. We’ve decided to un-publish the lite versions of our apps.

Lite versions are confusing

It is one extra decision for the users – which should they get – lite or paid. For a new game, how we should separate it in the lite and paid versions? On the one hand the user will see a sub-optimal product. Do they really buy based on that, or, are they likely to not buy because of that?

Try it before you buy it

If they choose to, parents can try the application on either store. On Google Play, they can download and try it for a few minutes, and, if they don’t like it, return it without question. On Amazon, they can try it using the ‘try it’ button before buying it. The application runs in the cloud, and is slower, but, all the features can be seen.

Better recommendations

The recommendations engines on both the markets have become better in the meantime. They recommend paid apps to people who prefer to get the full featured versions, and not waste their time downloading twice.

Free has no value

Sometime back, we made the full version of Kids Shapes free. It was not selling very well, so, we thought we’d just let the kids enjoy it for free. But, a funny thing happened when the full app became free. We expected that users would like that a paid app is now free. But, once it became free, user ratings went down instead of going up. When people paid a small affordable amount for the app, they valued it more.


The reviews on free versions of our app have only worked to discourage and de-motivate me, not encourage me to build more. Where as, the reviews on the paid versions have been thoughtful and even, thankful that they are getting good quality useful software for such a low price.

Kids need it

With the lite versions gone, I still want to bring the apps to those who need them – which is why I donated copies of all the apps to Breteau Foundation which brings high-quality hardware, software and teacher training to rural schools around the world. They are happy and grateful to have our apps – which motivates me to build more.

The Beginning

I don’t yet know what the effect on sales, ratings and rankings will be. But, by removing the lite versions, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I want the kids to learn and know that our apps can help, but, we cannot do it alone. Parents will need to support and chip-in as well. Its their choice. Its their responsibility.

Results (Updated: 3/30/2015)

For the week that we removed the lite apps, we actually made a huge sale to a school. That confirmed that for schools lite app versions are of no use. But, then, this review was left on Phonics Lite (Amazon did not suppress the lite versions yet).

Work Before Play! on March 29, 2015

This was great. I tried the free version first to see if it was compatible with what my 5 year old son was learning in school. Once I saw it was on par with what we were doing for homework (and then some), I gladly paid the $5 for the full version. Will be helpful for this year and next! And it’s a requirement before he plays any games.
This is the type of parent we want to reach. Someone who thinks its important for their kids to learn. If they would rather try before they buy… Hmmm. So, for now, I have reactivated the lite versions. But, I opted the lite version out of Google Play for Education. I still hope the market will shift further that I don’t have to maintain a lite version. But, perhaps its too early yet.

2 thoughts on “Experimenting with The End of Freemium

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