Why is Timebox no longer free?

Our Timebox Photo Journal app is now 5 years old and we just released the fifth version, Timebox 5.0. We’ve decided to charge $5 ($4.99 US) for it instead of offering it as a free app and we’d like to tell you why.

1. We are a small two-person indie software company and, at least at this point, Timebox is our only product so we need the app to make sufficient revenue to remain a viable business.

2. We originally thought we would make our revenue when people used the Timebox app to purchase physical versions of their Timebox photo stories: hardcover and softcover books, laser-engraved aluminum photo cubes and other photo gifts like phone cases. We’ve been running with this revenue model for the past few years and we've found that, at least in our app, we don’t get enough purchases to profitably run our small business.

3. We are philosophically opposed to adding advertising to your photos and stories. Our view is that these are your stories about your life and cluttering it up with irritating ads about stuff that is not yours is just wrong. Admittedly, the successful billion-user social networks show that’s not an issue for everyone, but we’d like our app to be an oasis in all that clutter.

4. We tried in-app purchases for additional features (e.g., cloud storage and making PDF ebooks) but the conversion rate was relatively small (a little less than 10%) and we became weary of people complaining about the up-charges. To solve the costs (to us) of cloud storage we moved to iCloud (no cost to the app developer) and made the other features free to everyone including the teacher who asked for free ebooks for all of her students. 

5.  Apple suggests app developers offer subscriptions as a way to earn revenue from mobile apps. Generally speaking, this seems to be a reasonable model for an app that is has either a well-known brand or has a well-known use, like a word processor, news or streaming media. Unfortunately, developers are facing a backlash as people are quickly becoming overwhelmed with the number of auto-renewing subscriptions, that continuously charge their credit cards, without knowing exactly what they're paying for.

So that essentially leaves us with charging upfront for our app. The same revenue model used for eons for physical goods.

Timebox is roughly a digital version of a physical paper photo journal that you can purchase at many shops and online sites. If you were to purchase a paper photo journal you’d find that even a modestly designed and manufactured one will cost you at least $10 (at Walmart). And naturally the paper version is limited in the number of pages you can have. So if you compare the $5 cost of the Timebox photo journal app with a paper one, we think the cost for Timebox is pretty reasonable.

What about the longevity of a Timebox photo journal versus the paper photo journal? Because we think it’s critical to the value of a photo journal, Timebox is specifically engineered for longevity. While it uses online services (iCloud) for sharing and syncing, it never requires them. All of your photo stories are safely stored on your iPhone or iPad at all times. Unlike the giant social network apps, Timebox runs just fine without an internet connection. In fact, it doesn’t require our little company to exist or provide any services, though of course Apple needs to stay in business. In addition, Timebox provides a way to create truly archival versions of your photo stories as PDF ebooks, MPEG movies and good old physical paper hardcover books.

We think $5 is a fair price for Timebox and hope you do too. We’re excited about Timebox 5.0, especially the new shared journals and collaboration features and think they fill a long-time need for our customers.

If you don’t already have Timebox, please purchase version 5.0 and let us know what you think.

Thank you.
Mary Ellen & Len

P.S. We’re already working of Timebox 5.1 so stay tuned for future updates!


Introducing Timebox 5.0 with Collaborative Photo Journals

Timebox Photo Journal 5.0

Over the 6 years we have been developing Timebox, the most frequently requested feature has been a way to collaborate and exchange photos and stories.

People told us they wanted to privately share photos and memories of people, trips, celebrations and many other things with friends and family. It took a few Apple updates to iOS and iCloud but the technology has finally become available for us to build this new feature.

Introducing Collaboration

In Timebox 5.0 we’re introducing collaboration and sharing with our new shared journals feature. To help explain it, here’s an example of a shared journal in action:

Suppose that you take a trip to Florida with a few friends. Some of you love taking lots of photos but not everyone is taking pics. Everyone loves everyone else’s pics and wants them for themselves.

To help everyone out, you get Timebox 5.0 and when you launch it, it automatically creates photo stories from each days' photos. With one tap on the new Share button you can create a shared journal called Florida Vacation and add your photo stories from the trip. You then tap on the Add People button to invite your traveling companions to the journal via a text message (or email). 

Collaboration Invitations

When they receive their invitations, the other invited travelers tap on the Timebox link in the text message to accept the invitation and get Timebox for their own iPhones or iPads. They can then view all the photo stories in the Florida Vacation journal and even add their own stories for everyone to see. 

If you allowed it, the stories in the Florida Vacation shared journal can also be expanded on (embellished?) by other invitees. 

People can make their own private copy of any story by tapping the Keep button to add it to their own Personal Journal. Anyone can also make and share a movie, ebook, hardcover book or other photo gift from any or all of the shared stories. 

If any of your traveling companions are without Timebox or an iPhone or iPad, they can still accept their invitation by tapping on the link in the text message, which will launch their web browser to view the Florida Vacation shared journal via the new timebox.co web app.

Make your own shared journal

To make your own shared journal in Timebox: 

  1. Tap Share, tap to select the stories you want to share from your Personal Journal, then tap Share again.
  2. Choose from the pre-made Family Journal, Travel Journal or create a New Shared Journal. If you choose New Shared Journal, you can enter a title for it.
  3. Tap View to view your shared journal.
  4. Tap on the Add People button (people silhouette symbol) in the lower left corner of the screen to invite other people to your shared journal.
  5. Tap Message, Mail, etc to choose how to send your invitation and enter the names of any people in your Contacts.
  6. Shared journals have optional permissions: Can make changes or View only. You can change anyone's permissions anytime by tapping their name or Share Options. Invited people who Can make changes can add new stories to the shared journal anytime.

If you find yourself asking your friends and family to send you their photos (and vice versa) from trips, parties and the fun times you spent together then Timebox 5.0 will be for you. With Timebox 5.0 you can create shared journals for family memories, trips and celebrations, add your photos, videos and stories then invite your fellow travelers to do the same. 

In this Timebox update there are also many performance improvements and bug fixes making it even more fun to use.

We hope you like Timebox 5.0!
Mary Ellen & Len