Apple to raise prices of apps in Singapore store

The price update means the cheapest app in the Singapore store will cost $1.48. This is 20 cents more than the current lowest price of $1.28.
The price update means the cheapest app in the Singapore store will cost $1.48. This is 20 cents more than the current lowest price of $1.28.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Changing forex rates cited as reason for hike; price update to take place over next 72 hours

Apple is increasing the prices of its App Store apps in seven countries, including Singapore.

In an e-mail sent to iOS developers yesterday, Apple cited changing foreign exchange rates as the reason for the hike. The Cupertino tech giant added that the price update will take place over the next 72 hours.

This change means the cheapest app in the Singapore store will cost $1.48. This is 20 cents more than the current lowest price of $1.28. The cheapest app in the United States store is US$0.99 (S$1.42).

The six other countries affected are Canada, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and South Africa.

Apple regularly revises prices to keep international rates in line with prices in the US, for both online and physical products.

For example, last October it upped the price of a MacBook Pro in Malaysia from RM4,769 (S$1,570) to RM5,899, after the ringgit weakened against the US dollar.

The firm has also adjusted its prices downwards. In 2011, the strengthening Australian dollar led to Apple slashing prices in the Australian App Store by up to 25 per cent.

Developers here do not think that the revised pricing will have a significant long-term effect.

Mr Aldric Chang, chief executive officer of mobile app developer Swag Soft, said that while higher prices may seem to benefit developers in the short run, ultimately the profit will be ploughed back into development.

"Customers may be more demanding due to the price hike, and may expect higher standards of development," he said.

"This means that app developers will have to put more effort and time into our products, which translates to higher costs of production."

Mr Adrian Ng, founder and director of app developer Codigo, pointed out that many apps do not rely solely on direct app sales for revenue.

"I don't see a lot of users being affected, as a lot of people use mostly free apps anyway," he said.

"Perhaps the only apps that will be affected are games. But even then, a lot of them rely on in-app purchases, instead of charging users a high price up front."

Other developers think that users will not mind paying more for well-made apps.

"It's really the quality of the content that matters, and we think users won't mind paying a little more if they like a game. If the game is not good...even if the price is slashed by half, consumers won't bite," said Mr Jeffrey Chee, founder of game studio Happy Labs.

Consumers The Straits Times spoke to are also not fazed by the price change.

One of them, law student Chen Jian Rong, 24, said: "Many of the apps that my friends and I use, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, are free," he said.

"But if I really wanted an app, I would buy it anyway. Twenty cents is not a lot if you are buying apps only once in a while. "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'Apple to raise prices of apps in S'pore store'. Print Edition | Subscribe