I'm working on building an app for a store. I'm planning for it to be available for a cost (not free), but there is a free one already that almost does the same thing. They don't appear to be monetizing their application.

What would be the best way to compete with "free"?

  • Thanks again for all your input everyone. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to come up with great ideas and knowledge to help me. May 7, 2015 at 23:41

4 Answers 4


Totally agree with ChrisForrence, Jean-Lin PACHERIE and DigitalVinci. Just a little more advice to you.

You can make a free version of the App, gather the review and comment from the version and add more valuable function to the paid version of the same App

If someone want to use your App for free, they can download the free version. Having a mass amount of free user is good, since they can help you to test and give you feedback about the App.

Then you can continue improve both version: The free version with baseline function, more value is added to the "Pro" version, so that when people want more and willing to pay, they got a choice.

  • Just a friendly reminder: answers should be able to stand on their own without relying on another answer.
    – Amelia
    May 7, 2015 at 23:37
  • I agree, everyone makes great points and has great thoughts on the subject. I am actually going to go with your idea on this one and see how it works out. Not sure why some jerk downvoted this answer. I'll give you the check tho. Thanks for answering. May 7, 2015 at 23:37
  • 2
    @user45623 rather than just edit and forget, I though I'd inform them that the passage at the start is normally avoided
    – Amelia
    May 8, 2015 at 5:12
  • 1
    @user45623: I imagine the editing culture varies from one SE site to another, but on Stack Overflow, conversational intros are usually trimmed as noise, as are salutations, thanks, etc. Chatty material can go in comments if really necessary. I'd like to see the same brevity here, but I neither know the editing guidelines here, nor wield the necessary points for an editor's pen :-)
    – halfer
    Jul 23, 2015 at 18:41
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    @halfer +1 for your insight. I didn't realize that was "the way" on stack sites. Good to know. Sep 7, 2015 at 8:42

Since you're looking to provide a paid app, it's certainly hard to compete price-wise with a free app (but oddly enough, not impossible; I'll explain later). In that case, you need to compete in a different arena: quality.

When you're developing your app, take care to make sure that everything looks fantastic. Make sure it works, make sure it's well-documented, make sure that it's a polished product, make sure it's well-supported, and you'll have a strong case for yourself. Customers would then have a choice: free or good? You'd be surprised how many people would choose good.

Why is it not impossible to compete price-wise? People are funny beings; price is often associated with quality. Therefore, paid products can be seen as higher in quality than free products (although it certainly isn't always the case).

  • Your idea definitely makes sense and will be the focus of my app. However, I gave the check to another answer as I am going to use his idea and he could use the points. :) Gave you the upvote. Thanks again. May 7, 2015 at 23:40


If you find a competitor that is much bigger than you (Google), or doing what you are doing better or for free (open source)- a very good option is to pivot. Perform a deep analysis of the competitive landscape and understand all the products in your space. Each product will have strengths and weaknesses. You want to find a niche where you can deliver value that has no or few competitors.

Then do one thing very very well. Be so good at your one thing that the other players could not hope to compete.

But trying to go head to head with a free product is tough unless there is something really important that you offer that they don't.

Most startups pivot and there is usually a force or learning that forces them to do so. Learning about a free product in your space is reason enough.

  • I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Everyone submitted great answers and I can only give the check to one of you. I awarded to the person who's idea I'm going to try first. Yours will be my backup plan. Thanks again for answering. Gave you an upvote. May 7, 2015 at 23:39
  • I have not seen "pivot" used this way before; do you mean dramatically change the direction/focus of your app or company?
    – user45623
    May 8, 2015 at 2:45
  • Pivot is a common Valley parlance. It generally means taking what you have learned and making an adjustment to better align your venture with a positive outcome. I am sure there are other nuanced definitions. May 9, 2015 at 0:30

I faced a similar situation. I developed a test data generator while there is a lot of such product out there. Some are free others are paid.

It was 8 years ago and me and my product are still there and most of my competitors as well.

I think that people looking for free stuff will never pay - whatever the reason why they don't want to pay. Let them be users since they can talk about you and you product. Being free is a strong value for community and viral communication. Build a free offer for your product

Those who a ready to pay will not pay for the product. They will pay for a solution. That means you have to build domain segment specialization of your product. For example, provide a free generic version of your app and paid customizations for banking? Retail etc

Think of service + product as a bundle. If your ae not big enough to be credible with services then get partner and give them the service part.

These are few ideas, but remember not to believe all advices. Make you own path, experiment, best advices ever are those of your customers and users.


  • Thank you for answering. You make some great points. I appreciate the knowledge from all who answered, but only one can get the check so I chose the person who's answer I was going to use in the field and test out. Thanks again. Gave you the upvote at least. :) May 7, 2015 at 23:38

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