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Why people buy apps (the Instapaper story)

I used to think that I knew exactly why people buy apps. In the case of iOS apps, there are several obvious places where an app could get highlighted :

1. The App Store – either as a featured product, or through one of the Top 10 lists.

2. App review websites – for example Touch Arcade.

3. Magazine reviews – yes, people still read paper magazines.

4. Friend recommendations.

The #4 point has always been mentioned as the most effective way to get people to download and use an app. After all, a friend would know what you like (or can make a good guess of it).

Sometimes, a good friend of the app developer can make an honest, persuasive case for the app. I have been using Instapaper Free for ages on my iPhone. I’ve always considered buying the full app, however the $5 investment seemed a bit too steep for something that just allows me to read more. (Disclosure: I already read a lot). I bought Instapaper yesterday. The reason? This argument by Merlin Mann. I love that the it’s not just a review of Instapaper listing the features and specifications. Instead, it’s about the act of reading and choices that you make.

So – for app developers, don’t overlook the value of a good friend who really believes in you, and what you are doing.