Great piece by Ellis Hamburger for The Verge comparing the consumer-paid costs of using free apps to that of paid:

Free apps are dangerous, yet free is the dominant business model most mobile apps are taking these days. The roadmap is simple: grow as quickly as possible, then insert ads of some kind or get acquired. For consumers it offers a crummy set of choices: either losing the countless hours you put into the app or have your private data sold to marketers — since as well all know, when the product is free, you are the product

I am a big advocate of paying for the apps, services, art, and content streams I get value from — as are most of you, I presume. You’re probably familiar with Kevin Kelly’s famous article on 1,000 true fans. In short, the hypothesis is that if an artist can gain 1,000 true fans who will support his or her work, then that artist can keep on making art for their fans — everybody wins:

One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.

As an artist myself, I believe this is a reachable and sustainable goal. And as a fan of other people’s work, I do what I can to rally behind a few folks whom I get great value and enjoyment from the work and art they produce and become one of their “true fans” by throwing my financial and vocal support behind them so they can keep on being awesome.

The Hidden Costs of Free Apps