The Official Ionic Blog

Build amazing native and progressive web apps with HTML5

June has been a huge month for the Ionic team, with announcements of Ionic Push, Deploy, and Analytics, along with Ionic Jobs and the upcoming Ionic Market. I’m incredibly proud of and humbled by the team we have here and their ability to focus and ship like there’s no tomorrow!

In the course of those announcements, we’ve received a ton of questions about everything from pricing, to how the Ionic Platform compares to other services and where we’re taking it. Instead of trying to respond to everyone individually, I’d like to address them here in this post.

I think it’s important to start with why we’re even building the Ionic Platform in the first place, and why we are so certain it fills a crucial gap in the market.

“No Web Views”

One of the things that shocked me when I started to explore the potential for a web-based mobile SDK back in 2013 was how antagonistic the mobile development market was towards hybrid apps based on open web technologies. Everywhere I turned, companies were bragging about how their solution was “100% native” with “no clunky web views” and “no CSS or HTML.” Many of these were mobile service providers offering solutions for push notifications, analytics, a/b testing, design, and development.

This was in sharp contrast to many of the individual developers, small and huge businesses that I talked to that really believed in the dream of using web technology everywhere, and especially on mobile. To them, it wasn’t a second-class option, it was better than doing pure native development.

These developers really wanted to be able to build mobile apps with the web stack. They wanted to put their web developers and designers to work, instead of having to find unicorn native developers. They wanted to use the most widely used and known technology stack in the world, and they definitely wanted to release on all major platforms on day one…but were struggling with the right frameworks, tools, and services to do that.

I realized that the vast majority of the mobile dev space had a huge blind spot and was in utter disbelief that anyone would want to build a serious mobile app with browser technologies, so they weren’t catering to the needs of hybrid devs at all. I thought Paul Graham’s What You Can’t Say post was quite fitting here: Hybrid app dev was taboo, and in many circles was not at all “cool,” so a lot of startups were ignoring it at best and fighting it at worst. And that drew me to it.

Our intense focus on hybrid developers was validated once Ionic started gaining traction, Apple and Google started featuring Ionic apps as best-in-class, and developers came to us asking for recommendations for push notifications, databases, app servers, analytics, and everything in between. They just weren’t finding what they needed from the mobile development space that only cared about developers building apps with the native SDKs, languages, and controls.

It seemed there was a huge gap in this quickly growing market, and we were inspired to fill it.

How the Ionic Platform is different

The mobile development services market is fairly mature at this point, especially if you’re building with the core vendor stacks and using their provided UI controls. So, we’ve seen a proliferation of services for push, backend code, databases, analytics, A/B testing, beta testing, etc.

The issue is that, as a developer using the browser as the runtime environment for your app, very few of these services have solutions targeted at your use case. Some have nothing for JS and HTML/CSS, and some solutions just target desktop websites (think Google Analytics).

At a high level, we want to bring these services to those who choose to build their entire app in the hybrid browser environment.

Take analytics, for example. It’s hard to find an analytics provider that automatically listens for UI events for mobile web apps. It’s hard to find JS analytics tools that realize you are building an app for the app store, not a desktop or responsive mobile site (where we don’t care about things like referrers or search traffic keywords). Ionic Analytics embraces this use case.

Push can automatically navigate in your app with the proper payload, since it understands Ionic’s router. The whole payload for push is being expanded in this way, to do a lot of magic for you through the web and Ionic environment.

The entire Deploy service wouldn’t exist without the web stack, since it’s not feasible to replace the entire UI for a native app remotely. Since we’ve embraced the web stack, we can fetch assets and update the UI remotely without resubmitting (in a way that Apple actually allows, for apps built inside the provided Web Views).

Going further, we also believe that AngularJS gives us many interesting ways to build powerful features much more quickly than before. With that in mind, our A/B testing feature will use the power of Angular directives to make it incredibly easy to toggle between UIs. Think ng-switch, but with variables set on the backend!

These are just a few examples. The point is that Ionic’s services embrace the fact that your app is built with web technologies in a way that the rest of the mobile development market just does not. Beyond that, we are going to integrate the platform services tightly with Ionic, so if you pick the Ionic SDK for the frontend of your app, the services will Just Work.

I do want to stress that we will never force you to use the platform for your app. We want Ionic to offer the best set of mobile services out there, but if there’s something that is a better fit for your app, we want you to be able to use it, and then we want to figure out how to make ours better!

Pricing

We’ve gotten a ton of questions about pricing. Since Ionic services are largely just in alpha still, some devs are understandably anxious about investing in them, without knowing how much it’s going to cost in the future.

To be 100% clear, we will be charging for Ionic services in the future. At some point, Ionic needs to generate revenue, in order to build the strongest possible company and to keep making hybrid developer’s lives better. Since we want the SDK to stay free forever, we plan to build the business on the platform, which better aligns us with devs: you get free tools to build great apps, and as your app is successful, we can help it scale. I don’t think this comes as a shock to anyone, and many of you already tell us that you want to pay us money, which we always love to hear :P.

While charging is a given, we are a well-funded, VC-backed company, and we are operating with the vision that right now, the best thing we can do is to make Ionic and the platform as frictionless as possible to use and to grow with. We have plenty of cash in the bank, with the express purpose of focusing on building a great product for all of you. It’s intentional.

So, with that said, we have made a number of decisions about our pricing already.

First, we will absolutely have a free/dev tier for every service we release. We know many devs are in long development cycles and haven’t released or hit traction with their app. We want to make sure that you can build and test and work to get off the ground without worrying about the cost of using the Ionic Platform to do that.

Also, we’ve decided that we want to have different pricing for each individual service. We think Heroku and AWS do this really well: You can pick and choose from various databases, add on services, etc., but you only pay for the usage on that specific service.

Billing will be per-app, so an app built for a client can be transferred to them, and their card will be the one that gets charged. You can build as many apps as you want on the platform without paying anything, until usage on a specific service for a specific app passes a threshold.

The challenging part about actually figuring out what those tiers are is that we aren’t yet sure what’s appropriate for free/dev mode and beyond, and I want to make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot until we’ve learned how the services are used.

We are operating under a simple assumption: We only want to make money if your app is successful. We want it to be a mutually beneficial relationship, where you can scale up over time, and we can continue to provide a robust and well-supported service for you to do that.

Our plan is to release pricing information for each service that goes into beta, so you know what you will be paying once we go into production. Push will most likely be the first service to do that, and we plan to make it competitive with the rest of the push services market.

Getting back to coding

I hope that addresses some of the questions we’ve gotten since we announced the platform services. If there’s anything lingering still, please feel free to leave a comment or email us.

The point I want to leave you with is that we on the Ionic team strongly believe the mobile services and tools market is not doing nearly enough to cater to the huge and growing demand for hybrid app development. We are so certain that hybrid apps built with Ionic will become an increasingly large portion of the apps in the app stores, and developers will need more and more help in making these apps do useful things and scale up to millions of users.

We hope you find the services we are rolling out useful and compelling enough to use, but if they aren’t, please let us know!, so we can fix that. We are working hard to bring our alpha services into beta as quickly as possible and to move into stable production mode soon after that!

  • http://www.gaurav.mobi Gaurav Chandra

    Awesome post. Very happy to hear about the pricing. Great job guys. I am a happy ionic dev.

  • yankitwizzy

    Great!!!

  • JackGuy

    I adore this framework and I’m happy to pay for services in my personal projects. I also really want to recommend them for enterprise use but that’ll have to wait until pricing is announced. Until then, I’m excited to see where ionic goes next!

  • https://github.com/leob Leo van den Bulck

    Great vision, very inspiring post. Looking forward to trying out all of these services. Keep up the good work.

  • Jiyuu

    Thanks for this clarification. Our company has chosen Ionic as its mobile platform. Opensource and free to use were our number one priority.

    We were looking for a strong, stable and promising solution. I’m convinced that Ionic is all about.

    I appreciate your “full-stack” approach: quick development process, ready-to-code, interesting UI.

    We’re building cross-platform and cross-device apps, so my only regret is the lack of real tablet’s solutions (though we’ve worked with grid system as a temporary solution).

  • Perillo Santana

    Great! : )

  • Jefferson Souza

    You’re awesome guys! 🙂

  • Ahn Aiden

    This is so good!

  • djicykle

    Awesome! One question though, we have been using the Ionic Framework for a while now and it has been great! We are looking to use this as a SaaS product so that means there will be a # of apps in the ecosystem…are you looking to make sure you have a “tier” for that line of business as well?

  • http://digitalshowcase.biz Alan Gruskoff

    I am paying now for Adobe’s PhoneGap Build service ($10/m). So why not Ionic?

  • Sameer

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful overview of what’s about to come. We are currently using ionic as our mobile framework for an enterprise application along with a third party mBaaS provider. Analytics has been a complicated piece to figure out. As your mentioned we have also been struggling to find a provider that automatically listens to mobile UI events. It would be great to use all these features under one platform.

    I’m curious to know if you have plans to support desktop web apps too? I saw one of your videos on YouTube where this was a feature to be expected in the future. Can you share a roadmap for this? A lot of our development is hybrid and cross platform. Haven’t been able to find a single platform/library that gracefully scales between desktop and mobile. Really hoping ionic can weave some magic around this!

    Your platform is awesome! Can’t wait to play around with the platform services alpha!

  • Herve

    Great job guys. Keep going!

  • http://arnoldchuenffo.blogspot.com/ Arnold

    Great !. Well said. We are anxiously waiting to see these services.

  • http://www.nextdayweb.net Azahari Zaman

    Great news here. Thanks and kudos for the job well done!

  • Richard

    I had already been feeling that this is the way I want to steer my mobile app development. This post addresses my concerns accurately and I feel a lot more comfortable in “pulling out the stops”. I am willing to give this my full commitment. …and thanks guys. As seems to be the consensus – you guys rock!

  • http://rafaell-lycan.com/ Rafaell Lycan

    That’s awesome.

    I believe that some kind of plans to use the services is good, to give a return to the product and to improving the products by the time. Currently I started develop using Ionic because it’s open source and extremely easy to learn, and I hope the Ionic team always will launch great products.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  • Tom McLellan

    This clarification really helps. I love how much time Ionic saves me every week, and so it’s great to know that the pricing will be on a per-app basis and that you’re planning a dev/free tier. For production and client apps it’s good to see that you’re building a sustainable business model where pricing and app success are aligned. Awesome!

  • Ariel

    Very nice post. It sounds like your values match your users’/buyers’. Thank you.

  • http://caravanaweb.com.br juarezpaf

    To the moon, right? /o/

  • gfdickinson

    Sweet framework and exactly what I have been looking for!

  • Fabio F. de Aquino

    You Guys Rock!

  • http://www.nikola-breznjak.com/ Nikola Brežnjak

    Hey guys,

    Indeed, this is all super awesome. However, I have one very specific question whose TL;DR is: “Can we use Ionic framework to make apps for betting industry”?

    Let me explain; this what you’re saying that you won’t charge for your services until “we succeed”, as in when our app reaches some traction is great – but, tbh it too much sounds like the thing that guys at Unity3D are doing. And, this is a great model, where no one (I guess at least) hasn’t got any bad things to say about. However, since we were dealing with them, and then found the hard way that they indeed have a specific, humongous (we’re talking 150k$ per year recurring) to say the least, license for apps that even have something to do with the betting industry. So, I would just like to ask plainly – do you have some kind of restrictions like that or can I keep my sanity and continue developing with Ionic?

    Thanks guys, you truly rock!

    • yesimahuman

      Hey Nikola,

      Great question. One difference here is that Ionic the framework can be used for anything, and betting is a great use case for it since you often have to release those apps as mobile websites which Ionic can handle.

      However, for the services, one thing we are doing right now is figuring out the legalities of providing services for certain industries. For example, Ionic.io will not support applications that require HIPAA or PCI compliance, among other things. It’s possible we could support those in the future with custom contracts that could be quite pricey.

      So, my answer is that I don’t know what we’d have to do to support the betting industry, maybe nothing. We will have more info once we move into beta, and are working with lawyers to figure this all out right as we speak!

      • http://www.nikola-breznjak.com/ Nikola Brežnjak

        Thank you for the reply. Ok, I guess its already pretty awesome that by using only Ionic you don’t (secretly) charge something (like those guys at Unity3D as I mentioned).

        Great, looking forward to see all the pricing models once you define them.

        Good luck!

  • http://sbwebservices.com Ben Holmes

    Thank you for the open and detailed post here. I’ve been very wary of using your platform services for the very reasons you have described. However, with this post and some other issues I’ve been dealing with, I’m actually willing to really look into them.

  • Stefan Yanku

    Hi Max. Thank you for your efforts to build and offer Ionic to the developer community. And, I like very much your outlined pricing concept, specially the dev plan before the app takes off the ground. I’m looking forward to see – and use – more of your products!

  • Zi

    What about other platforms?
    Windows 10? Mac App Store? Linux? Browser?

  • IrfanAmir

    Well done ionic team.. You guys have become inspiration for many developers like me..
    Now please do something for securing hybrid apps from reverse engineering.

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  • John Stroud

    I’m loving Ionic. Thanks.

  • Matthijs de Wit

    Working in the EU (The Netherlands) in healthcare and app development, privacy and data are important to me. General info about usage isn’t necessarily a privacy concern, patient data is however.

    I am really excited about the progress made by you guys, so I hope these concerns will (continue) to be taken into consideration in the future.

  • Warija

    Awesome product.
    After the change of my role from application developer to project/ program manager, I have not had a chance to personally code for years now, although I was an avid Windows/ C++ developer. I have quit my company to follow my hobbies and passion. Since application design and development, I immensely enjoyed, someone suggested ionic framework to get started.
    Here I am and I hope to use this platform to translate some of my ideas into mobile applications. Great job, Iconic for providing us this platform. There is so much information overload that it is very difficult to choose the right stack and get going to even write a small application. This seems to be a right place for me to start 🙂 Thank you!

  • ekreative

    we a web development company (www.ekreative.com) we have both native and hybrid based app development. A year ago we switched 100% to Ionic for all our hybrid app development and can not be happier! thank you so much for your hard work! i think the pricing model is fair and i am excited about the future strategies. Quick question: whereas jobs is focused on finding full time ionic devs to join teams on site, is there a service that you have/will have that allows companies like us to look for one time projects and services clients off site (aka outsource) ?

  • simplejoymedia

    I appreciate your approach to pricing. Add me to the list of people who will be glad to pay as our apps are successful!

  • Robert

    This is great news. I had to build an app using html5 from scratch and it has been a nightmare! Glad i found ionic just in time.

  • https://github.com/leob Leo van den Bulck

    I’ve looked at the Ionic Marketplace yesterday for the first time, and I have to say it looks fantastic. Very useful, it’s really exceeding my expectations. I’m definitely planning to publish stuff on the Market.

  • Eduardo

    I am really interested on knowing about your future prices.

  • efei

    Hi, I have a business where I have quite a few customers with their own app but with a pretty low price since the app doesnt do that much.

    If I choose to go for Ionic.io am I going to pay somewhere around 10$ a month or am I looking at starting prices around 100$?

  • xameeramir

    As per my understanding, the framework isn’t the service. Push – yes, it surely is. Can you please enlist all the services. So, the people who’re looking forward to do business using ionic can make better decisions?