Falcon Pro developer discourages new downloads with $132 price tag, and it’s all Twitter’s fault

Have you tried to buy the Twitter client Falcon Pro recently? Did you notice an absurdly inflated price tag? That’s not an error or an obnoxious valuation by the developer — that’s to keep you from downloading it. Developer Joaquim Verges was recently forced to price Falcon Pro at around $132 to make sure new users don’t buy the application. It’s imperative to keep the app in the Play Store for those who’ve already paid for it and want to continue using the app, and he doesn’t want to make it free.

Why, exactly, would someone do this? Well, Twitter, that’s why. If you don’t remember, the folks at Twitter introduced new API restrictions that made it so third-party Twitter clients could only get 100,000 “tokens,” which would be unique user activations. The idea was to drive more people to use Twitter on the web or Twitter’s own official apps. The tactic is believed to be in place so Twitter can maximize advertising impressions as it can’t control monetization for third-party apps.

Long story short, Falcon Pro was finally hit by the 100,000 tokens limit, which means new users can’t properly use the app without getting lucky and having someone release a token. It’s quite notable that the app has reached the limit while only having between 10,000 and 50,000 downloads in the Google Play Store (the exact number is somewhere in the 40,000 range). This would indicate an issue with piracy, and some illegitimate users might be taking valuable tokens away from those willing to pay for the app.

That’s a different beast of a story for a different day. The point is that without the ability to authorize more than 100,000 accounts developers are finding it hard to make an honest living off the once-lucrative field of Twitter apps. We wouldn’t be as sour as we are if Twitter’s official app was a joy to use, but the truth is it isn’t. It works, but it doesn’t quite capture the sense of Android design, and it doesn’t have many of the features that are driving users to third-party apps to begin with.

It’s an unfortunate situation that has stifled the growth and spirit of competition, with some developers flat-out refusing to create new Twitter apps from now on. That’s why Verges is supporting this petition, and so am I. The petition specifically requests a limit increase for Falcon Pro, but if we can get enough signatures to capture Twitter’s attention and somehow spur change we’re hoping it helps all developers alleviate what has become a very serious problem.

In the meantime, do your comrades a favor and release the tokens to any Twitter app you aren’t using. It won’t do much in the grand scheme of things, but it’ll at least let a few more lucky souls use the apps they want to use instead of being forced to find alternatives or revert back to Twitter’s own lackluster experience.

I won’t flat-out boycott Twitter — after all, it’s one of our favorite ways to stay in touch with you guys — but I have no problem letting Twitter know that its practices have long overstayed their welcome. Don’t be that guy, Twitter.

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  • camelsnot

    makes no sense to do this. So if by chance someone DOES buy at the higher price, they won’t be able to use it because there is no token. Basically, the app is therefore broken and can’t be in the store up for sale. It’s a crappy deal that Twitter did but doing this doesn’t help either.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Well there’s still a chance they’ll be able to use it eventually, although those chances are very slim.

      I see no issues with the tactic, though. Most users are ignorant to the situation and it would be wrong for the developer to have to take bad ratings because of Twitter’s actions. I do agree that there should be a better way of going about it, but perhaps this is something Google can help with.

      I think developers should have the ability to unlist apps in the Google Play Store for everyone except those who’ve already purchased them. That way, users can still get updates like normal and the developers won’t have to risk selling an app to someone who can’t use it. It wouldn’t be the most practical solution, but in situations like this it would be nice. It wouldn’t completely solve our problem — after all, if I decide to give a token up now and want to come back to the app in the future I might have a hard time getting it back — but at least it’s something until Twitter changes its ridiculous API .

      • Mike Reid

        >I think developers should have the ability to unlist apps in the Google
        Play Store for everyone except those who’ve already purchased them.

        ABSOLUTELY.

        I have 2 paid apps on Play and I want a way to prevent new sales on the Light version, while still servicing the many people who already purchased.

        Google provides no way to do this, except sorta via high prices. Google just wants to keep making money; I think that’s the issue.

        And no matter what, there will be many user “reviews” claiming the dev is “ultra greedy” because they don’t/won’t read or understand.

    • Schaweet

      He clearly states not to buy the app in his notes area on the play store. If someone buys the app for $132, doesn’t read the developer’s comments, and doesn’t return it within 15 minutes, then they deserve what they get. That said, the Dev is really cool and I’m sure he would refund that person anyway.

    • iamjackspost

      “It’s imperative to keep the app in the Play Store for those who’ve already paid for it and want to continue using the app, and he doesn’t want to make it free.” -From the article, which you should have read.

    • Aaron Sua

      Remember it has to stay in the store and be tagged properly to continue to provide access and updates to those who already bought it. Sadly this is the ONLY solution for the situation at hand. Nothing says the developer can’t refund someone who foolish paid for a $130 phone app. It is however easier to refund the small number of users that do that than put up with making the app free and getting tons of negative responses. This also gives twitter the chance to change their api. Of course they could also just start buying up these other apps / hire these developers to make their own app worth using. I don’t deal with twitter at all personally.

  • FrankkieNL

    Can’t he make multiple versions of the app?
    Then every version can have 100,000 users.
    App full? make a new version of the app with another Twitter-API-Key.

    Just an Idea. I don’t know if that would work.

    • Schaweet

      I was going to suggest the same thing.

    • gardobus

      Don’t quote me on this but I think that is against Twitter’s policy/rules/whatever and can get Falcon blocked completely.

    • Pkmmte

      Twitter has rules against that.
      There’s a chance of him and his app getting banned from Twitter if he were to do that.

    • Maximillion82

      was exactly my idea, it would be hard to control that because sadly many people do not pay attention to the description, and just download it.

  • Anthony McKay

    Why is it that I now have the sudden urge to get Falcon Pro now that I know I can’t have it?

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Google says there’s three reasons :)

      “””
      Here are three reasons why this is so:

      1. Heightened attention: When something is hard to get (or forbidden) you immediately pay more attention to it. Notice that when you are on a restricted diet, you sometimes get too focused on what you “can’t” eat. This heightened attention — which can escalate into obsession — makes the forbidden food seem very important. Your inner brat takes advantage of this, and tries to convince you that you MUST have that chocolate or pizza.

      2. Perceived scarcity: When something is scarce or in short supply, its perceived value increases. You want it more because you think other people also want it. If you’ve ever bid at auctions or on eBay, you know the experience of that last-minute excitement as you watch the bids spiral upward. The more people who bid, the more you’re willing to pay for the item. Your inner brat wants it at any price.

      3. “Psychological Reactance”: People don’t like to be told they can’t have or can’t do something. It’s related to not wanting to be controlled by others, especially if the situation feels unfair or arbitrary. The “reactance” is both emotional and behavioral.
      “””

      • Sfa

        4. They (Twitter bosses) are fully idiots.

      • rustygh

        Funny thing I noticed about these three reasons… this is exactly the “how to get hot chicks video” If you as a guy can make yourself even appear to fall in these categories.
        My feeling is Google should step in and disallow this type of token limit.

  • mattj78

    I wouldn’t mind twitter doing this if their app was any good but Falcon Pro is so much better its not funny.

    • Schaweet

      Exactly. The official Twitter App is embarrassing. Falcon Pro is the best one I’ve used so far and I’m pretty sure I’ve tried just about every one of them.

      • gardobus

        Which is funny considering this tweet from Falcon’s developer:

        “Twitter emailed me. They refuse to extend the token limit because Falcon doesn’t provide any features that their app doesn’t have already…”

        “DOESN’T PROVIDE ANY FEATURES THAT THEIR APP DOESN’T HAVE ALREADY”

        wat

        Go home Twitter, you’re drunk.

  • AndroidiMac

    Moral of the story? Don’t use Twitter.

  • NardVa

    Just paid the price..ordered 5 mins ago…

  • Well Done

    Really, the moral of the story is “it’s not easy to make money, regardless what people might think, how famous you are, or how many fans you have”

  • RozJC

    I’d prefer if the petition was to raise the token limit in general, because 100,000 is just too low in general. Considering how many people use Twitter, it’s very easy for a 3rd party app, especially one as popular as Falcon Pro would hit this limit fairly quickly…

  • PhoenixPath

    “This would indicate an issue with piracy”

    ….or, as several devs have stated, it’s more likely from people buying it, logging in, trying it, and refunding. Yeah, amazingly, it happens. A lot.

    Phandroid: Another victim of the RIAA/MPAA, “OMG Piracy!!” tactic. Will you guys be joining the BSA soon as well, then?

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Calm down. It was just one angle I didn’t think about.

      • PhoenixPath

        Don’t.

        Take.

        The.

        Internet.

        Personally.

        If I cannot give *you* of all people, a hard time, what the hell is the internet for?? Sheesh. I wasn’t even yelling…the only caps there were because they were abbreviations. You know this stuff….come on, man. Drama is for TNT.

        • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

          Lol, I was just making sure you understood that I wasn’t putting it all on piracy, that’s all. In fact, I’ll update the post to include the angle regarding refunds.

          • PhoenixPath

            Cool.

            Oh, and let me know how that BSA application goes, k?

            /evil

    • ClayRogers

      could also be sales from the Amazon App Store

  • wickets

    maybe the new way to become rich and famous is to open up a token brokerage company

  • sygyzy

    Can someone explain how tokens are consumed, released and lost? I am a legitimate customer, having purchased a real license for Falcon Pro from the Google Play store. I often wipe my system and flash new roms. I would hate to suddenly lose my key just to some random person.

    • Jared

      I believe the tokens are tied to your twitter account. When you sign in with third party apps, you have to give the app permission to use your twitter account. I think you can view and revoke permission within your account settings on twitter.

  • in3ptone

    Twitter is probably the single worst idea for social media ever created to survive and prosper. Not only has Twitter’s regulatory practices long overstayed their welcome, but Twitter itself has as well. I wish it would just die already.

  • Toasted_Cracker

    I never cared for twitter anyways. Personally I wish it would just go away and die. But like, that’s just my opinion man.

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Right on, maaaan. … See you on IRC! Wait… what? :)

      • GBGamer

        Just because you don’t use IRC, doesn’t mean some of the rest of us don’t still use it.

        • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

          Was being sarcastic. I’m on IRC 24/7 via my VPS’ ZNC BNC proxy. :)

        • rustygh

          I’m pretty sure that guy lives on IRC LOL

  • Ken Bosse

    I may be looking at this wrong, but on Google Play it says Plume has: “INSTALLS:1,000,000 – 5,000,000″
    How is it that they are not impacted by this?

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      I’m sure a majority of those installs came long before the API change. Plume has been in the Play Store for quite some time. I also think there may be some clause that allows existing apps to keep the tokens they had before the API change, but I would need to verify this.

      • http://nspeaks.com Navjot Singh

        The apps which had more than 100,000 tokens before the change are allowed double their limit after the new api is put in place. Hence plume can survive much longer. Infact one Tweetbot app’s devs believe they have enough tokens to last several years.

        • Ken Bosse

          ahh good to know

  • wtpanos

    how can anything related to Twitter be a ” serious problem”??

  • http://www.jeroenheijster.com/ Jeroen Heijster

    I have multiple twitter accounts, all have a new token. What about reinstalls? You need to reauthorize then. All of this accounts for the missing 60.000 tokens.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      From what I understand, reinstalls of the app itself do not go toward the token count. If I were to uninstall Falcon Pro and reinstall it, I wouldn’t lose that token or get an additional token. I’d still have my same token from before.

      • Del373

        What about when you change roms? Seems to me like if you were to switch from Paranoid Android to Cyanogen Mod and have to reinstall your apps the Twitter tokens would act much in the same way Google Play Music does.

  • ntegrit

    Sounds like a potential legal issue.

  • No_Nickname90

    How do you release tokens? Just uninstalling the app? Because I had like 5 different apps before. I was just trying them out.

    I don’t plan on looking for them to “release” the tokens. LoL!!

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Look under your settings on Twitter. You should see a section for third-party apps. They will have buttons to deactivate/release tokens.

  • xploPR

    I paid for the app and cant get in

    • C-Law

      Lol why would you pay that much! ?

  • ljg500

    My comment is simple: This sucks. Twitter obviously can’t stand competition, since Falcon Pro is far better than their “official” client.

  • Sfa

    Twitter, so smart. Shooting down innovation and creativity from developers with senseless methods. They must to be stopped. Boycott? Massive complain to their mail boxes and Twitter account?

  • Caleb Loop

    it would be a bit annoying, but the developer could repost the app under a different name thats obvious enough for people to know its the same. “falkon pro” “Falc-on pro” “Fahlcon Pro” etc. etc.

  • itsgonnalast

    Weird… I wonder if someone pays the $132.13, tries to use it, gets an error… what then, do they sue Falcon Pro?

    It’s strange that they leave the possibility open that someone will buy it, instead of de-listing the app completely.

  • unknown

    I just remembered I had a twitter account

  • http://twitter.com/HYPEjonathan Jonathan S Paek

    This could also mean that people are installing falcon pro on multiple devices, not just piracy, no?