A letter to our users: Simplenote is now free

Today we’re announcing that the full version of Simplenote is available as a free download for iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide. We’re partnering with the great Fusion ad network to make this possible. (If you use the free version of Tweetie for Mac, then you know what Fusion is all about).

We’d like to tell you why we made this decision and what it means to you.

Simplenote is doing well. Quite well, actually! We’ve been getting some great reviews and a good number of new users lately. However, in the past couple of months, while ramping up our efforts to spread the word about Simplenote, we’ve started to reach the growth limits of what a simple, paid notes app can achieve.

Our goal is to be the best app for text notes in the world in terms of price, quality, and customer support. We’re already delivering great quality and support, but until now, we’ve been at a huge disadvantage in terms of price.

Some of you might disagree. We sometimes hear that we should be charging more for Simplenote. But this usually comes from people like John Gruber, who is very tech-aware, and more than happy to pay for an online service that measurably improves his life.

However, we view our main competitor to be Apple’s free, built-in Notes app, whose millions of users might only have a vague awareness of syncing and how it can help them. And it’s hard to compete with free! By making Simplenote free as well, we’re eliminating a huge barrier that stands between Simplenote and all the note-takers who might benefit from our fast and easy syncing.

The remaining barrier we need to overcome is one of awareness. Although syncing isn’t nearly as complicated as something like Google Wave, it suffers from a similar problem. “Why do I need that?” So if you know anyone who is still using Notes (and isn’t fanatical about its Marker Felt font) please join us in spreading the word about the benefits of syncing, and letting people know that they can now download and use the full version of Simplenote free of charge.

To celebrate the occasion, for a limited time we’re also offering premium subscriptions for only $4.99 per year (less than $0.50 per month), which is 50% off the usual price.

Please note that as an existing, paid user—even if you haven’t subscribed to premium—you’ll never see ads on your device unless you want to. You’ve already paid for the right to use the app ad-free. Of course, you have the option to enable ads if you want. They’re a great way to discover other quality apps that might interest you, and tapping them will help support our ongoing efforts. But the choice is yours.

Meanwhile, as of today, all new, unpaid users who create accounts will see an unobtrusive ad on their device. To disable it, these users will need to subscribe to a premium account.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoy the ongoing improvements we’ve been making to the service.

Mike and Fred

26 thoughts on “A letter to our users: Simplenote is now free

  1. "Please note that as an existing, paid user—even if you haven’t subscribed to premium—you won’t suddenly see ads on your device."So does this mean that if I’ve already purchased it, I’d better not update it ever again or I’ll be subjected to the ad-supported version? Or do you use account information to make sure preexisting customers don’t see ads? Can you clarify?

  2. I guess us non-premium users who bought the app at $2 are the ones who really made out. Now I have an ad-free (I *hate* ads) app without having to subscribe to a premium service that I don’t really need. Thanks!

  3. @David: That’s correct, you’ll never see ads unless you want to, even after you update.@Ellsass: Right, that was the goal. If there’s enough demand from new users who want to be in a similar situation as you, we’ll certainly consider adding a one-time purchase for just the ability to toggle ads.

  4. To anyone who was wondering, as I was, what happens to the legions of us who purchased at any price before this: I’ve been assured by Mike that our right to use the app ad-free without having to upgrade to Premium will be retained. And since your account is tied to the web and not just your device, you can be certain that Cloud Factory is able to and will hold up this promise.Aside from that, as a developer in the Simplenote ecosystem, I believe that this is a necessary and welcome step to ensure the continued growth of the Simplenote user base and to widen the ecosystem for anyone who develops in it.All that said, $4.99 for Premium is as much a steal as the original price of $1.99 was, and I’ve finally bitten the bullet and picked up a subscription.Great job Cloud Factory, and I look forward to more awesomeness in the future. 🙂

  5. Ok, thanks – I was worried when I read it was going free as I knew that would mean Ads. So thanks for keeping it Ad free for those of us which purchased it. As to the premium features: Please could you tell me if the previous versions features means it keeps backups if I accidentally delete a note?

  6. I think this is definitely the right direction to go. However, it’s a bit annoying that I’ve just upgraded to premium – days before you’ve halved the price! Will we be getting a refund for the additional money we spent?

  7. Usually I’m upset when new users get a discounted price to something I’ve already paid for. But in this case, I don’t mind. I’ll give you guys more money if you need… 😉

  8. @i5m: Yes, the backup feature for premium users lets you restore notes from any day in the previous week, whether they’ve been edited or completely removed. Currently a backup version of each note is stored once every 24 hours.@Joshua: I’m sorry you fell into our "limbo" period between releasing the update and announcing this change. We’ll contact you soon.

  9. That’s the way we like it – all reasonable and well thought :)And although I am one of the old users: the price of 4,99$ you even got me into a premium subscription 😉

  10. After a string of previously paid-for apps suddenly foisting ads on users, your approach comes as a breath of fresh air. I’ll be buying the Pro version anyway, but I hope your decision to spare current users the ads sets a precedent for other developers. Thank you.

  11. Nicely handled. This should be a model for all other app developers who decide to start running ads in their previously ad-free apps.

  12. I’m just a regular user and can’t really speak to the choice of going free with ads. However, as a customer who paid for it, I’m very impressed by your customer care in letting us be ad-free. I hope other companies see your wise decision as best practice in the area. Thank you!

  13. Does this mean, and I hope it does, that I can purchase an additional year of Premium service for $4.99? If so, sold. SimpleNote has helped me immensely.

  14. Thanks everyone for appreciating the thought we put into this.@Mark: Yes, you’re welcome to purchase an additional year for $4.99. We’re happy it helps you!

  15. Another thanks for leaving out ads for existing users. That was the right move to make and shows respect for your customers (curse you Grocery IQ people for injecting ads after I already purchased).

  16. great, great service and, as most before me, impressed with customer care.with 10 months left on my premium account, i still had to take advantage of the promotion, i’m now covered for almost two years.thank you.

  17. I’m glad to see paid users don’t get the ads but I’m kinda reluctant to recommend this now since I don’t want people using a note app with ads. I think there should be a free and paid version (without ads).

  18. @Ajit: Thanks for your feedback. We’re investigating the possibility of adding an option for a one-time payment to remove ads, which would be equivalent to a paid version.

  19. I’ve just discovered Simenotes and think it’s a great complement for Notational Velocity. I would love to have the option for a one time payment to remove ads. I’m not willing to pay a subscription for services I don’t want to use and I hate the ads that appear in the free version. So, at this stage, I won’t be using this app. Bring back the paid, non-subscription option and I’ll buy it in a flash.

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