There’s the cost of a product. And there’s the price of a product. They are conflated often, but they are not the same.
Here’s the perfect example. A new car may have a price tag of $25,000, but that’s price, not cost. Over the lifetime of the car, costs will include gasoline, insurance, needed maintenance and repairs, tires and brakes, car washes, interest on the loan, etc. All those costs add up to the total cost of ownership.
If you sell the car, the amount received can be deducted from the total cost of ownership, but cost and price are different. Likewise, there is a cost to using email.
Apple provides a decent Mail application which runs on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Mail on the Mac has more features, including a built-in Junk Mail filter, which, if the Mac continues to run, will also capture and segregate spam email for the same email accounts on iPhone and iPad.
Since the email app is free on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, the only real cost is the time to use Mail. Use it less and you save more time. In addition to Mail, I use other email apps, including a favorite, Spark, and one packed with features, Airmail on my Mac. I use SpamSieve to trap spam on my Mac, and SpamAssassin to trap spam on my email servers.
All of those add-ons help to save time. Mail is free. Spark, for now, is free. Airmail’s price tag is nominal. What caught my eye this week regarding the cost of email was the Newton email app from CloudMagic (the email app originally was named CloudMagic).
According to Cloud Magic founder Rohit Nadhani, Newton had 4-million users when it was a free app on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and 400,000 users when it turned to the subscription model a couple of years ago. Reviewers like everything except the price tag. Here are a few headlines.
- A Great New Email App That Costs Way Too Much
- The Best Email Client You Probably Won’t Buy
- 25 Best Newton Mail Alternatives
- Newton Raises Prices To $10 A Month, $100 A Year
See the problem?
Somewhere in Newton’s bag of tricks there needed to be a cost vs. price comparison and there was not. Newton did not have the features found in Mail (free from Apple) and wasn’t as easy to use as Spark (also free) and didn’t have the customization found in Airmail (only $10).
Let’s say that Newton could prove to save users 100 hours a year on email usage. Is that worth $100? Probably. But the proof needs to be obvious. Maybe it was to 40,000 paid subscribers, but even at $10 a month the math didn’t add up to enough to keep the app going (up to as much as $400,000 monthly revenue, or perhaps $4-million in annual revenue; I suspect far less in reality).
For users of any email application there needs to be a quick analysis of cost vs. price. Price is just the price tag of a product. Cost is the ongoing costs to use it, and that includes the learning curve, customer support issues, and the amount of time using the product to achieve a particular end result.
Email costs are high (especially in learning curve and daily usage) so any email app developer that can help reduce that time should have more customers. Newton failed to show the distinction between cost vs. price.