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Why isn’t Tourzilla app 99 cents like other apps?

Tourzilla generates real estate tours in cloud

Tourzilla generates real estate tours in cloud

Apple has created greatest marketplace for individual developer in form of App store, which is a great platform for those with programming skills to create something useful and put in front of millions of users. It has also created the perception that software that runs on mobile is almost worthless (99 cents), if not completely. As a developer, that second part sucks! Most developers spend few months to get a good app created and then ask 99 cents a pop with the hop that they can sell a few thousand to get a decent return on their investment of time and possibly money too.

Tourzilla is a Saas app with subscription monthly pricing model. It allows real estate agent to create nice video tour of their property listing with minimum effort. In a traditional scenario, agents use their camera to take picture and then upload the pictures to create a tour. The entire process takes a lot of time as compared to Tourzilla, in which you just have to press ONE BUTTON after the pictures are taken to create the tour.

Recently someone suggested that we change the pricing model to give the app completely free or charge a one time fees and that got me thinking that the users are perceiving this app as standalone apps that work within iPhone only, so I wanted to explain why Saas apps (Tourzilla in particular) have an ongoing cost and charges for their users (because app is just a small part of a big system)-

  1. Generation is in the cloud – Video editing is a complex task that requires good amount of CPU, memory and storage if done well and right. There are smartphone apps to edit video but anything more than 15-20 seconds and it is going to take time depending on what kind of video editing takes place. Specifically the video editing required for Tourzilla, it just cannot be done on a smartphone. So the app is just a small part of the over all application that helps agents capture media (pictures and video) in a structured manner and then uploads the media in background, without any effort on agent’s part. This in itself is a great time saver but the fact that all the media is uploaded and processed on a server means there is a server operational (bandwidth and CPU time) costs involved. The servers employed for Tourzilla are in the Amazon Cloud – the best available in market.
  2. Tour hosting and streaming – Once the tour is generated, reviewed by the agent and published, the tour is hosted on Tourzilla server. So there is a storage cost to keep a copy of the tour on Tourzilla servers and every time someone attempts to view the tour, there is a streaming cost for the bandwidth consumed to stream the tour video file to the users’s computer or mobile device.
So at high level, as you can see – these three costs are ongoing in order to be able to generate, store and display the tour to the agents and their customers – generation (server CPU) cost, storage cost and streaming cost.

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