There has been a lot of rather excited discussion recently about sustaining small app developers, making sure we support the apps we like to keep them around and getting better.
Its always been the case that the App Store has worked on a "pay once", "keep forever" basis. So you could have bought RSSRadio on your iPhone 3G in August 2010 for $1.99 and installed every update since then on all your new iPhones for free. Thats pretty good value.
I don't think we will ever see the App Store change, and there is no doubt that many many users 'expect' everything to be free or pay once. Frankly i think this is something Apple is very happy with (read about Commoditising your Complements)
Something else seems to be emerging to fill the gap. When asked, small groups of the most enthusiastic users seem prepared to support apps with small payments on an ongoing basis. This week Overcast was the top grossing app in its category on the App Store in most countries and its only form of payment is a "Monthly Patronage".
This is an encouraging sign. I love what I do and its a privilege to be able to do it, but the App Store is a harsh place and getting enough steady revenue in to feed my family is always a balance. I am putting iAds over the top of UI which i laboured to create, and am limiting functions in apps so users will pay to unlock it.
I'm not naive enough to believe that we have entered a utopia where all of the iAds and in app purchases are going to disappear but perhaps the time has come where one or two dollars a month seems a reasonable thing for an app you may use for many hours a week.
At this point I don't intend to build a patronage system separately into every one of my apps, but i have created a Patreon account. If you enjoy one of my apps, perhaps having bought it months or even years ago, please consider becoming one of the people willing to support something you enjoy.