A tale of two 1Password touch apps

Alright, we’ll admit it: 1Password touch and our new 1Password touch Pro are not the best candidates for a round of “One of These Things is Not Like The Other.” Sure, we just introduced the Pro version with Quick Copy and Paste and a “Look up in 1Password” Safari bookmarklet (get it here). But besides those features, they’re pretty much the same.

So what gives? Why – after a year of giving 1Password touch away for free – did we start charging for it a week before WWDC, then introduce a separate Pro version that, well, isn’t quite Pro yet? The answer is: it’s complicated.

1Password touch

First, the new 1Password touch (1Pt) price. Believe it or not, we’ve been giving this fine little password and identity manager away for free since we launched it almost a year ago. We hoped that, at least for some, it would be a gateway drug to get people interested in 1Password on the Mac.

1Pt became quite popular, whether people were buying 1Password for the Mac or not (Industry ProTip: Not all iPhone and iPod touch owners are Mac users). So popular, in fact, that it now accounts for the lion’s share of our support load. Toss in the fact that the App Store still doesn’t allow developers to charge so much as a nickel for upgrades or even updates, and we quickly found ourselves with a dead-end business model resembling that of most web 2.0 companies.

Ultimately, we decided that we had to start charging for 1Password touch, so we flipped the switch to $4.99 just a week before the new iPhone was announced.

1Password touch Pro

At the same time, we were already working on 1Password touch Pro (1Pt Pro) which, as the Pro with a capital “P” might suggest, is designed to offer more powerful features that some of our users have asked for. Features like more organization with folders and favorites, syncing over-the-air with MobileMe and other WebDAV services, and much more are all in store for the Pro version.

The reason that we launched Pro without most of its pro-level features is that a crucial upgrade to our regular version got stuck in Apple’s App Store review process. We submitted it two and a half weeks before WWDC, but like many other App Store horror stories, we hadn’t heard a word from Apple (in fact, it just went live last night around 3am, over 3 weeks after submission). The 1Pt update fixed some issues with our new Wi-Fi Sync engine, about which customers had a number of questions and bug reports. We were starting to get nervous about having a 3.0-ready app for the launch last week, something Apple was encouraging of all developers. Instead of submitting another update to the regular version and risk knocking ourselves to the back of the review line, we decided to try a different approach.

We decided to double our chance at getting a 3.0-ready app into the store. We stripped most of the unfinished features out of 1Pt Pro and submitted it as our iPhone-OS-3.0-ready app (in fact, it requires 3.0; 1Pt Pro will not work on any previous iPhone OS). This gave us a second shot at being ready for OS 3.0, and the (admittedly non-ideal) situation offered an opportunity to launch 1Pt Pro at a rock-bottom introductory price of $5.99. Sure, not everyone needs 1Password touch Pro. But those that do, or think they might, can now get it for 60% off of its eventual retail price and be ready for when the real features start arriving. Again, Apple doesn’t allow App Store developers to charge for upgrades or updates, and it shows no signs of changing this policy. The price you pay now for either 1Pt or 1Pt Pro is all you pay. As far as our plans are concerned right now, when 1Pt Pro goes back to a regular price of $14.99, or even when we release 1Pt Pro 3.0, you won’t have to pay another dime.

Lesson Learned

After all the feedback here on the blog and in our forums, it’s clear now where we made our mistake. We rushed to get ready for 3.0, but we didn’t explain to you – the customers without which we would not have jobs – what was going on. Things can get crazy around the intersection of an annual trade show and a massive platform update, and we apologize for getting swept up in the storm. We aren’t a company who believes in overcharging and under-delivering for our customers, and we hope the past three years and 100+ free updates and upgrades to 1Password on the Mac will help prove that (not to mention 1Password touch being free for almost a year). The stripped down, highly discounted Pro edition is a temporary solution. In the near future we will submit 1Password touch 2.2, a free upgrade that fully supports iPhone OS 3.0 and our Quick Copy and Paste feature. Soon, 1Pt Pro will begin filling its shoes with the more powerful features you’ve been asking for.

We hope this post clears up the situation around 1Pt and 1Pt Pro, but as always, we more than welcome your feedback and questions. Thanks for being Agile Web Solutions customers. We are both proud and grateful to serve you all.

David Chartier
Chief Media Producer, Agile Web Solutions