Sub Club

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In this premiere episode, David and Jacob chat about the early days of the App Store, the birth of the subscription app business model, and what the next 20 years of personal SaaS development might look like.

Show Notes

Welcome to the Sub Club podcast: a deep dive on building and growing subscription app businesses. Hosts David Barnard and Jacob Eiting will guide you through the ins and outs of subscription apps — sharing insider tips, predictions, and insights from industry experts.

In this episode, you’ll hear about:
  • What to expect from the Sub Club podcast
  • How the Apple Developer Platform has evolved since 2008
  • The importance of creating user-friendly cancellation experiences
  • Why now is an exciting time to be a mobile app developer

Follow Us:

David Barnard:
Jacob Eiting:

Here’s the Outline of Our Conversation:

[00:58] Meet your hosts David Barnard and Jacob Eiting.

[01:25] The Sub Club Podcast mission: helping app developers make more money.

[04:55] What you can expect from Sub Club: interviews with guests who are successful in the industry, trying new things, and are knowledgeable about specific insights that don’t get talked about a lot.

[05:11] Sub Club is the first podcast focused on subscription apps.

[05:15] Personal SaaS is a nascent industry.

[5:39] Industry terminology; Consumer SaaS (CSaaS), Personal SaaS.

[5:56] Investors are becoming interested in this space; growing an app from good to great.

[6:18] The first billion-dollar mobile subscription companies; Lightricks, Calm, Headspace.

[6:45] Trust and ease of use: purchasing and cancellation in the App Store.

[7:22] Frustrating subscription cancellation experiences.

[10:10] Apps should make it easy for users to unsubscribe; Blog Post: Subscribers Are Your True Fans.

[10:37] Don’t monetize with subscriptions if it doesn’t make sense for your app.

[12:08] Data on subscription cancellation confusion; cancellation survey data.

[13:45] Apple’s monopoly and their responsibility to make the user experience great.

[14:08] The importance of giving Apple feedback on what is and isn’t working for developers.

[14:38] iOS 13 subscription cancellation prompt; RevenueCat’s data; Blog Post: Apple’s New Subscription Management Prompt Seems to Be Working

[16:50] How to submit feedback and suggestions for the Sub Club podcast.

[18:15] David and Jacob’s early App Store experiences; who launched first? (Edit: Turns out, it was David! Trip Cubby hit the App Store on August 2, 2008 — 9 days before Paddle Ball went live on August 11th, 2008.)

[19:45] Jacob’s first app launch: Paddle Ball

[20:57] David’s first app launch: Trip Cubby

[22:58] How Jacob got started in mobile app development: jailbreaking iPhones, learning how to make Cocoa apps on MacOS, launching AppLoop (early SDK for analytics); Book: Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X

[25:40] Engineering resources: Is it better to hire contractors or learn to code yourself? 

[29:28] The democratization of the app development stack.

[31:52] Parallels between the early days of the App Store and the dot-com boom.

[34:12] Why we’re still in the early days of opportunities on App Store platforms.

[36:08] What will the next 20 years of Personal SaaS and Business SaaS look like? Blog Post: Prediction: Personal SaaS Apps Will Go Mainstream in 2020.

[37:19] New platforms and form factors; AR.

[38:49] Scale, distribution, and the subscription business model; subscription apps for knitters.

[39:00] The subscription model goes hand-in-hand with creating consumer value (users won’t pay $1/month for a fart app).

[40:49] RevenueCat’s role: providing app developers with tools that would otherwise require massive teams.

[42:25] The complexities of app commerce; Stripe.

[44:15] The “AWS-ification” of mobile app development.

[47:00] Despite its downsides, technology makes our lives better; the Covid-19 pandemic.

[48:40] Legislation around app subscriptions and consumer protections (App Store free trials in Quebec do not auto-convert to paid subscriptions).

What is Sub Club?

Deep dives into building and growing mobile app businesses. Hosts David Barnard and Jacob Eiting interview industry insiders where they share insights, strategies, and stories behind the biggest apps in the App Store.