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The right price—the one that will extract the most profit from consumers’ wallets—has become the fixation of a large and growing number of quantitative types, many of them economists who have left academia for Silicon Valley.
It may come as a surprise that, in buying a seasonal pie ingredient, you might be participating in a carefully designed social-science experiment. But this is what online comparison shopping hath wrought. Simply put: Our ability to know the price of anything, anytime, anywhere, has given us, the consumers, so much power that retailers—in a desperate effort to regain the upper hand, or at least avoid extinction—are now staring back through the screen. They are comparison shopping us.
Apps for iOS abound to an almost insane extent. You want a camera app? Well, here are 150 of them. Per page. Just click next. Figure it out. So, you look at the icons, the star ratings, and read all the reviews. You’ve picked one out and buy it. If you don’t, you have to keep some mental list of which ones you were interested in lest having to do the search all over again. Let’s see, was that Pro Camera, Camera+ Pro Camera Pro+, Camera Plus, or just Camera Pro you liked before?
This was the muddled situation before I came across AppShopper. It’s universal and let’s you look through what’s available and filter it all by paid or free, by device or category, by date or popularity, and by type of update. That would be great if it ended there, but the real value of the app is that last criteria coupled with the “Want it” button. If you are browsing and come upon an app you’d like to consider, just click it. You will then have an entry in your Wish List to refer to. You could have just written this down to consider. You are, however, quite unlikely to chart price changes and updates unless you’re gifted with some serious compulsion issues. AppShopper can notify you of these types of changes. Perhaps you might like to get The Professional Chef but find that $49.99 is ridiculous for a glorified cookbook app. This is not the best example, only a personal one, because the only activity for this in AppShopper is Oct 25, ’11 – New App: $49.99. If someday the notification comes in that there has been a price drop, I would certainly reconsider the app. Many apps have a sale for a few days only, and the notifier dutifully reports: Price Drop: 14.99 -> Free. Oh, joy! Of course, the feeling is not so great when you get that notice a while after your own purchase, but thus is life.
I noticed recently that they also have a website with all of this functionality that syncs with your other devices, as was always the case (it also has some features for the Mac App Store), but it also has a utility for Mac and Windows that uploads the names of the apps from your local iTunes folder to your My Apps tab so that you don’t have to do a session of search and mass Own it jabs if you want to know what you already have. Of course, Apple added the Purchased link in the iTunes store for an unabridged picture, and this is a necessity, but scrolling through years of purchases can be an onerously frustrating task.
AppShopper is quite a necessity for me in my quest to impose some sort of order to the wild app landscape.