Entitlement & Value: The Case Of The $20.00 Twitter Application

It’s amazing how much of a stir this relatively minuscule amount of money (technically $19.99, but you get it) caused the other day. I understand that to some people, $20 purchases are things that need to be considered. But for many in our culture and society, it’s absolutely nothing.

Let me back up and explain real quick.

For those that don’t know, Twitter is turning their back on the third party apps that made the service great to begin with. Instead of embracing the developer community, Twitter is looking to monetize its service by forcing as many people as possible to view content on the site. Money conquers all, I guess. Anyway, each application developer is given a certain number of “tokens” to give out to users. Once the tokens run out, no additional new users will be allowed to use the Twitter application.

There are many people in the world making a living by developing applications and selling them through the Apple App Store, and this includes Twitter apps. Developing apps takes time and effort; developing great applications takes a greater amount of said time and effort. Like musicians, a lot of what they do is thankless. From “Man, this band changed their sound up from their last album… they suck!” All the way to “This developer didn’t put in every single feature I personally demanded… they suck!”

Enter Tweetbot. Developed by the gentlemen over at Tapbots, Tweetbot started as an application for iPhones and iPads, and due to popular demand, has finally been released on OS X. I, along with many others, have been alpha and beta testing it for a few weeks now, and absolutely love it. It is, hands down, the best Twitter experience I’ve ever had. Are there a few things I don’t like? Sure, you’ll have that anywhere. But by and large, I love it. And other users love it too.

Because of the aforementioned Twitter shenanigans, the Tapbots team knows they have a finite window within which to make money from selling its application. They don’t get paid up front; every cent they earn is through sales. So they had to set a price, one that accurately reflected value and earned them money, while still convincing people to purchase the app.

Tapbots chose a $20 price point for Tweetbot.

The outrage, sense of entitlement, and indignation from nerds worldwide was comical, saddening, and very telling about how we as a society view value. There were plenty of “I can’t afford that” or “I don’t use Twitter enough to justify that” comments thrown around, and I more than understand that. But the comments I heard and read by and large went something like “Tweetbot is the best Twitter app out there, but I think it’s stupid that they charge so much. I’ll go use a shittier app that costs less/is free instead.”

Again, I understand people placing perceived value on goods and services. For some, $20 for a social media application is perfectly reasonable. Others may only think it’s worth $10, or $5, or absolutely nothing. Fine, whatever. But all those posts I read just really made me scratch my head.

Here’s what I got for $20: A well designed application for a service I use to communicate, collaborate, find jobs, get help, waste time, share photos, etc. I use this service every single day (for better or worse) on multiple computers.

Here are just a smattering of examples of things I could give up in order to pay for said application:

  • 1 trip to Subway for a $5 footlong every 3 months for a year.
  • 4 venti double shot non-fat no-whip pumpkin lattes from Starbucks.
  • 2 orders of Chinese delivery.
  • 2 tickets to a movie.
  • 2 albums from iTunes, or 1 vinyl record, for you hipsters.
  • 1 dinner out at a decently-priced restaurant.

Every single one of those, to me, is worth it. I value great design. I value functionality. I’d rather have something that lasts instead of something that will just be forgotten about within minutes.

Here’s another argument. I own a $2,000 desktop computer and a $1,300 laptop, purchased because again, I value design and functionality. All of these people that are complaining own similar machines, as this is an Apple-only product. Yet they balk at a $20 purchase? Insane.

This entirely-too-long post is my way of stating that I feel that we, as a society, have lost our grasp on value. We have become so entitled to just getting what we want, from our first car from Mommy and Daddy, to that promotion, to good grades, to free applications on our phones and computers. Sometimes we have to pay for what we get, be it through hard work or monetary means. Find what you value, what means a lot to you, and support it however you can.

Me? I’ll be making mac and cheese from a box a couple more times than I might truly desire. But hey, it’s still mac and cheese, right?

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