Smule Embraces Freemium With Magic Piano iPhone App
Smule Embraces Freemium With Magic Piano iPhone App

You know the freemium business model for mobile apps has reached an inflection point when music app developer Smule-which has never released a free app in the lifetime of the company-embraces it.

That changes today. Smule-the developer behind such hugely successful music apps as I Am T-Pain and Magic Piano-is relaunching the Magic Piano iPad app for the iPhone as its first free product.

The iPad version let users play along famous piano classics, from "Flight of the Bumblebees" to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." But whereas all the songs are embedded in the iPad app at purchase, Smule will make such songs available as optional paid downloads in the free iPhone version, and will also dramatically expand the number and types of songs made available. The company says it will expand beyond classical into pop and current hits, making new tracks available every week, in addition to offering a new free song every Wednesday.

You can see how the app works here:

Smule co-founder, chief technical officer and chief creative officer Ge Wang (the runner in the video above) tells Billboard that the move is entirely experimental. Should it work out, Smule may start applying the freemium businesses model to other, new apps.

But Smule is no stranger to in-app sales. I Am T-Pain for instance was a paid app that also featured in-game sales for users to download new music. All this move does is take away the initial payment for the app.