In contrast to some competing free apps/services, the Pushover mobile apps are $3.99 which pays for the monthly hosting costs to keep the service running. Both apps are highly rated on both app stores and so far the app sales have paid for the domain name and other tangible development costs and are continuing to generate profit. I just purchased a Blackberry phone for development and plan to create a Blackberry app for the service.
Have worked out the math behind one-time purchases supporting unlimited perpetual service? I suspect it is possible if a substantial amount of users leave the service after the purchase, but I can't see how this is not a form of pyramid scheme - new users effectively cover obligations made to eariler users. How is this sustainable with a non-trivial volume? Or do you (plan to) charge API users?
It's hard to work out accurate numbers because users can have such drastically different usage patterns. Some users have signed up with one device and have only received a few notifications, others have many devices registered and receive dozens of notifications daily from chat plugins.
The API is free, though applications are limited to a reasonable number of messages per month. That was put into place out of fear that a large company would use the app/service as a dirt-cheap platform to send large amounts of messages every day to its employees (like routing/dispatching directions, etc.) and burden the service. And rightly so, since shortly after launching, I got an e-mail from a large US company looking to use it in such a way (they ultimately decided not to use it). If such customers do come along, their API fees will cover them being on segmented servers.
there: kudos to you for executing exact the idea I had as early as 2010! By any chance you could write an article on your experience with sells and marking? This is what most interests me! I am working on a project that will utilize Pushover so soon I will be a paid customer :)
Also, about your revenue model. How did you calculate that $3.99 would be sufficient to make profit AND give service to users on "all you can eat" terms? Wouldn't it be wiser to give one year for free (thats plenty of time to see whether I need and like your service or not) and then charge $9.99 per year after that? I mean, if this grows, I can easily see people eating up more bandwidth than this one-time $3.99 payment can bring into your pocket. If your TOS (sorry haven't checked) does not explicitly saying that in the future you may charge more, I think you may found yourself walking on a thin ice.
I don't really have much experience in the way of sales and marketing, but my integration efforts so far have just been to setup Pushover applications with icons ahead of time and then e-mail admins with the API key and some explanation so they don't have to do much work. I did the Github integration and Adium plugin myself to increase visibility.
I went with $3.99 because Prowl is $2.99 and Notify My Android is $3.99. I'm not convinced that a yearly service is worth the overhead and I personally wouldn't pay to use a notification app that had a yearly fee.
The bandwidth and server overhead for running such a service are pretty low and iOS/Android push notifications are free, so I'm not really worried about monthly costs for normal users outweighing the revenue the app brings in. Right now Pushover is running on one of my servers that does other things, so it's not even really costing anything tangible. If costs start to go up, I can always increase the price of the apps to slow growth (or increase revenue if it doesn't slow growth).
I'm curious how people are finding, and then using your service. Are most of the users people who use another app that provides pushover notifications, or are they developer or power user types who want a way to push notifications to their phones? (I would assume the former, I suppose.)
Most are sending alerts to themselves. While I've integrated it into Github and my Fitbit notifier to try to pick up users that just want to receive alerts, most are using it to generate their own alerts from network monitors, BitTorrent clients, IRC clients, etc.
I pinged the ifttt.com guys to ask about integration but haven't heard back yet. I'd like to do more integration with services that currently do e-mail notifications like http://hnnotify.com (I've already contacted them) to pick up more end-users.
This is excellent timing for $work. We'll be needing push notifications for a mobile app we're building over the next couple months. How do we integrate Pushover in our app? Is there an SDK we include in the app, or would users have to purchase and install the Pushover app? Our app will be free, so we'd like to avoid pushing costs on to our users. But we would have no problem paying a monthly fee to you, in addition to any usage over 5k messages. The continued survival of your service is certainly in our best interests!
My email address is on my profile, or I can email your support address if that's better.