Apple adopting the word ‘follow’ for podcasts as users associate ‘subscribe’ with paid content

From 9To5Mac:

As reported by Podnews, Apple will no longer associate the word “subscribe” with Podcasts. According to a research from Edison Research, about 47% of users associate “subscribe” with paid content. This results in fewer people using the Podcasts app because they don’t understand that the content is free.

This confusion between what is paid versus free feels like a problem Apple has contributed to and done too little to solve. From the in-app purchase dialog being difficult to immediately discern the cost of something, to the fact that an App Store listing hides the information for an app which is free to download but requires a paid subscription in order to use.

The payment model Apple foists upon developers has two choices:

  • A one-time payment which is clearly labeled on the “Get” button for an app.
  • A recurring subscription which can have tiered pricing, but the price of such an app appears the same as a free app upon initial download.

Given these two choices alone, and a developers need to make a living (which might be hard to do if users pay for your app once and never again yet expect updates for years), it’s understandable that more apps move their pricing model to the latter approach. This spreads the pricing confusion and mismatched expectations across a wider user base over time.

It’s quite the mess, and the solution here is to do what? Rename “subscribe” to “follow”? It feels like too small a change, and leaves me with a negative impression given that the word “follow” is oft associated with social media, a world set apart from that of podcasting.