A cheap math app – not a good idea?
Earlier this month, I put the finishing touches on Mathomatic and published it to the App Store. Mathomatic is a pretty small app for doing symbolic math. I needed it for a class I took in Signal Processing, and I figured it’d be useful to others as well. It expands and simplifies complex polynomials, takes derivatives and integrals, and a couple other cool things. I built it around the Mathomatic CAS, an open source computer algebra system written in C, and spent most of my time creating a beautiful equation renderer for the iPhone (hopefully to be open sourced soon!)
I decided to sell it for $1.99 because it seemed like a low price would A) increase sales and B) lead to fewer complaints about the limited feature set (After all – how much can you expect for $1.99?). After selling NetSketch for $5.99, I was curious to see how a low priced app would go. I’ve been considering lowering the price on NetSketch, and I thought it’d help determine the optimal price.
Well, it turns out you can expect a lot for $1.99 – at least in the U.S (Interestingly enough, Mathomatic has a much higher rating overseas!). Mathomatic got some bad initial reviews from people looking for more powerful features. The most popular complaints mentioned were:
– Only supports the variables X, Y, and Z
– No support for trigonometric functions
– No in-app help
These are all valid complaints, but they were all things I’d hoped to avoid by pricing the app low. The only other app I’ve heard of that offers similar functionality on the iPhone is SpaceTime, and it’s $19.99. It is, of course, a much richer application with more features and most likely some documentation.
So the real question is – do the people that purchase math apps for the iPhone care how much they cost? Maybe there’s really no space in the market for a “cheap” math app!