Pleasing everyone

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"You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time".

- John Lydgate

You can't please everyone. So why do we try? I don't know, but I fall into this trap myself often. I often encounter this with my apps, where I agonise over the pricing and business model. I am writing this as a reference to come back to when I forget that this is unachievable.

For example, I'll use common refrains on Reddit when a new app is posted. It is only fair to note that when I last posted an app on Reddit, I got a really great response and lots of support which I am deeply grateful for! This speaks to the initial quote, it's not that you can't please lots of people; you just can't please everybody. Also, not everyone gets as lucky with a predominantly positive response; sometimes, developers post their apps and get only negative responses. There are also the posts that complain about the prevalence of subscription models, the apparent greed of developers, or the perceived lack of good cheap or free apps on iOS.

Here are some of the types of responses I've seen. I think all of them are valid, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I'm not saying they are wrong, just that they can't all be met simultaneously.


"Why not paid up front?"

"Developers are getting greedy, and this app isn't worth a subscription!"

"There is no new content or anything, it doesn't need an external server or have external costs."

In-app purchase

"Not useful without paying."

"Why aren't features free?"

Paid upfront:

"How am I meant to try the app if I have to buy it first?"

"Why not lower cost?"

"Why not free?"



Well, I mean, surely free will make everyone happy, right? Nope. Maybe initially and very briefly. If the app is complete and there is nothing that could ever require maintenance or improvement, no bugs to fix, and no SDK changes ever impact it, it may even get a nice long run. In this case, the app will live a long and happy life until being pulled by the App Store in 2036, when all apps must be 128 bit compatible. Oh, and also, no one, not a single person, ever asks for help or support. That is how good this app is.

It's pretty unlikely the above is the case. This means that the developer will likely need to invest time and effort for the app to actually be valuable past the immediate short term. The developer also has to pay to put the app on the App Store at a minimum, will likely have to deal with support, and doing all this at a cost to themselves is not great.

If the app provides value, there will be people who would choose to pay a premium for support and quality, and if the app is exclusively free, they won't get that.

If you're a visual type, here is a quick example table using just two users showing what they will be happy with. As soon as you have these two users both wanting your app, you can't make everyone happy!

User Subscription Premium IAP Paid upfront Free
Free Frankie 😡 😠 😤 🤩
Premium Pattie 🤩 🤩 🤩 😢
Everyone? ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌


Remember, you can't please everyone. You can please lots of people, and importantly yourself. Aim to do that, and consider that the goal.


Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

P.S. Unsplash has some unreal photos for the search "angry", some of these are truly something else.