FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

Postby Yabena » Sun Aug 27, 2023 10:28 pm

Good morning dear Ernie (or maybe better good evening in your time zone?)

My name is Yanis, I’m a passionate Flashcards Deluxe user and somewhat missionary fanatic about the app too :). Back in 2010, when I was a kid at 9 years old, my father listed the vocabulary I had in school into FCD. Over the years I built my English, French and Latin vocabulary through the app (and he learnt them too). Maybe you remember my father as the guy who awarded you a gold medal in 2010 (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2954&p=8578&hilit=mabena#p8488) ;-).

Fast forward 13 years, I’ve made decks for literally anything, from recognizing Swiss fish by the picture of their tail (which shows the usefulness of stuff we need to learn in school, at least in Switzerland) to sign language (with pictures of the gestures) to Physics, mental calculation shortcuts, Turkish (I love the built in function to access Siris pronunciation sounds), Swahili and Toki Pona (more on that in another post).


Since I also used Flashcards Deluxe in Zanzibar whilst I learnt Swahili, I gained some new perspective about pricing, which I would like to share with you here.

First of all, I totally agree with my father that the app is not prized fair (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1811&p=5065&hilit=president#p5065 – and with that Ernie for president I can identify too xD. Btw are there any news on naming the Categories? I actually wanted to ask you the same question, but now I realized he already did. Haha, it’s always funny to realize how similar one is to his father), however it differs by country. In Switzerland, sure, the app is rather too cheap, it’s 4$ are the price of a cup of coffee (although you need to be lucky to get a coffee for just 4$ in Switzerland these days), and if you take the minimum wage and calculate it per day, it’s about 1/50 of the daily wage. So for a Swiss citizen I’d say it’s fairly cheap, and for me, I’d claim personally this was the best invested money in a lifetime, hands down.

However, in the third world these experiences differ. After I learnt Swahili so fast in Zanzibar, many people became curious and asked me what my secret is, why I learnt that language so fast. As so often, I just smiled and showed them the app Flashcards Deluxe and listed all its benefits. Most young Zanzibarians got intrigued and curious, however, when I mentioned the price, the listeners excitement was gone immediately. The minimum wage in Zanzibar is (if calculated daily) about 4$, so the app costs a daily wage for a Zanzibarian. This is as if you would price it in Switzerland at 200$ (which I’d still pay, after having used it more than half of my life, but definitely not in advance, people don’t want to buy a pig in a poke)!

Later, I volunteered as an English teacher, and I wanted to have my students learn their vocabulary regularly. They had little to no equipment, but most of them had a smartphone. So I said to them that I will pay for their FCD app, and they will learn through it. Then, however, paying for the app wasn't as straightforward as I thought. None of my Zanzibarian students had a credit card or debit card, so I couldn’t just give them cash and they paid. My Swiss credit cards were all rejected, since it didn’t correspond with the country setting of their Apple account. I tried to buy gift vouchers/coupons online, but they also didn’t work out because they were automatically linked to Switzerland since they were paid through a Swiss credit card. I tried to obtain a Tanzanian card myself, however I first need to have Resident Permit for that first (which is a huge process in a terribly malfunctioning bureaucracy). I tried to convince one of my students to get a credit card themselves, but the bank’s credit cards package was prized at scandalously high 8$ per month (so 2 daily minimum wages monthly! – and "employees" there are moonlighting even below the minimum wage, whilst the big majority is unemployed with little to no regular income, living of subsistence farming and occasional temporal jobs).

In the end, we gave up. I went back to good old (or should I say: bad old) paper flashcards for most students. For some of them, I gave them the password of my Apple Account, and they downloaded it, and then I changed my password. However, that means, if they change their phone, all their flashcards will be lost forever (which happens quite frequently since third world countries often reuse the used dump phones from the first world till they break, so a phone does not survive long there).
It was very frustrating that even if I wanted to pay for them, I couldn’t really give them access to that powerful learning tool. In all other areas of life it was already frustrating enough to see how disadvantaged they were, since books, dictionaries and quality education are scare and unaffordable there, so at least I thought that in the digital environment things would be more easy and fair, but I was wrong.


I wondered whether you thought about different financing models and why you chose to stick to what you used to. I like it that you did not make the app cost a monthly subscription fee because I hate being forced to pay monthly. However, donating monthly is a different story. Did you ever consider making a Patreon page and making the app free? However, I have no idea at all about the pricing and how much money you make through the app and whether you depend on it, so I cannot really judge.

But I thought maybe it is possible to set different prices for different countries in Google Play Store and/or Apple’s App Store? Like for example second world remain at 4$ first world countries at 10$, Switzerland at 15$, and third world countries at 0$. As I wrote above, it’s so hard to circumvent the country system of Apple accounts, so I believe there will be almost no fraud of people cheating the system to not pay for the app.

And if not, maybe there could be a way to download the free version of the app, and then unlock all features by using a “secret” code which could posted in the forum after a long text appealing to people’s honesty, such that only those with a daily income of less than 20$ use it or something like that. Or the codes could be one-time codes, and one could apply for by emailing you (so when I’d go to Zanzibar next time, I could get a few dozen of codes for my students there ;-)).

Or another, although not so nice way, would be to put more features to the free version of the app (like full spaced repetition and up to 200 cards per deck or something like that) but to put ads there. I really hate ads, but in this particular case, I could understand it. Or any other kind of obstacle which annoys a first world person enough to pay for the app, but is easy enough for a third world student to deal with.


These are all only suggestions, I don’t know any coding (apart from HTML and how to enter cards into FCD), so I cannot judge how reasonable these ideas are. Also, it is your app, and totally your decision how to price it. Also, to be honest, I was really happy with the pricing for most of the time (except when I went to Zanzibar), and I am still fairly happy that you make it a one-time purchase and not a monthly subscription like Duolingo or others.

I’m curious what you think about it.

Once more thanks for your amazing app!! Really, I'm so enthusiastic about it that someone even asked me whether I’m affiliated with you and whether I get a commission of the sales because I spoke so enthusiastically about it :) ^^

Best
Yanis
Yabena
 
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Re: FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

Postby Ernie » Mon Aug 28, 2023 2:54 pm

Hi Yanis,

"I'm so enthusiastic about it that someone even asked me whether I’m affiliated with you and whether I get a commission of the sale..."
Haha, this made me laugh.

Wow, you are really putting the app to good use! I'm really happy to hear you like it, are enthusiastic about it, and share that enthusiasm with others. While the app I'm sure has contributed to your learning success (yay), I think your brilliant mind and its ability to remember/recall better than the average person is really the star. And your hard work.

I would no idea a price is too high in a certain market unless I was told by someone like you. I'm happy to adjust the price for these markets.
As a test, I change the Tanzania price to free in the Google Play Store.

What I would recommend is that if you have a limited number of people you want to share the app with (<50 every half year), just email me and I'll send you codes. These are Apple and Google controlled codes that will give them ownership of the app on their Apple/Google account. But if you have the need for the price to be lowered in a particular market, I'd probably be happy to do that also, though.

I'm currently happy with the $4 USD price of the app. People appreciate the low cost. On Apple, I do offer an in-app "donation" subscription, that a few people have signed up for. I do depend on the app for part of my income. I haven't really given other pricing ideas much thought, and maybe I'll revisit as some point, but I'm happy with the current simple approach.

Thanks!
Ernie
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Re: FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

Postby Yabena » Wed Aug 30, 2023 11:35 pm

Good morning Ernie

Hooray, another GOLD MEDAL for Ernie for changing the price of his app in less than 24h. Incredible.

Currently I'm back in Switzerland, but I'll text some Zanzibarian friends to test the download now.
Thanks for the offer with the codes, that's a great solution too. I think I'll get back to it once I return to Zanzibar which will be probably spring or fall 2024. In that case I'd discern between commercial codes for which I'd pay you in advance (I was teaching Swahili for expats too, and they definetly afford the app, but it would be nice to include it in the price of the lesson, and the code would be a nice way to do that) and charitive codes which I'd give out to people who cannot afford the app. I'll get back to you.

Yeah, I'm fond of the simple system too, and I like the 'cheap' price of 4$.

Best
Yanis
Yabena
 
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Re: FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

Postby Yabena » Fri Sep 15, 2023 8:49 am

Hi Ernie
I just got feedback from a Zanzibarian friend, he tried to download the app from the Google Play Store. In 2022, when we checked together, it was priced at TZS 10'000 (which is almost exactly 4$), and now since you adjusted the price it costs TZS 1'000 (40¢). Whilst that is somewhat affordable for Zanzibarians, it still excludes the far majority because to make the payment one needs to know someone who is rich enough to have a local credit card and who is willing to share his details.
Do you know why the price ends up at TZS 1'000 rather than free?
Best Regards
Yanis
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FCD Download Price.jpg
FCD Download price on 13th September 2023 in Zanzibar (Tanzania)
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Re: FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

Postby Ernie » Thu Sep 21, 2023 3:05 pm

Hi Yanis,

I thought I could change it to free, but apparently not. My update wasn't successful and I didn't notice.

I just changed the price to TZS 130.00. That's the cheapest I can set it to.
Ernie
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Re: FCD Praise and Pricing Thoughts

Postby Yabena » Sat Sep 23, 2023 12:51 pm

Hi Ernie
I just called another friend in Zanzibar, now the price is 130 TZS which should be definetly affordable for most Zanzibarian (see screenshot). However the problem remains that most don't have a credit card, and that these are way too expensive.
It's sad that you cannot change it to be a free app. I guess the problem why you can't change it is just Google's App policy, right?
I think we're stuck here for now. If I get another idea, I'll text you again
Best
Yanis
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FCD Download Price 130.-.jpg
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