When people unsubscribe from my app, I send them an automated email asking for feedback. Responses are pretty rare, and when they do come, it's usually about price, which isn't really helpful. Today, however, I got a response that was very helpful. They took the time to list a bunch of detailed feedback—some of which I will be implementing straight away.
So why did this person cancel?
While they really liked how my app did one thing (calling it almost perfect in this regard), they didn't like how it did another thing that was important to them.
Admittedly, the part they didn't like needs some work, and I can totally understand where they're coming from. However, the part they found to be near perfect is my app's main feature. It's what it does well, and it's where I've focused most of my energy.
In other words, it has received the most attention to detail. I've been refining the experience for years, and I'm fairly confident that my app is in the top tier when it comes to this feature. And that, I think, is how I'm able to survive in a marketplace where competitors do the other thing better.
And herein lies the indie's advantage. Of course, technically, any software can be physically copied, but the particular way that a developer does things, the myriad of decisions they make along the way when developing something, is 100% unique to every developer. Like a signature. Every developer has one. And some produce a better quality product than others.
Not only that, a team of developers will almost never achieve the same attention to detail that can be attained by a single individual. This is one reason, by the way, that indie apps can coexist successfully alongside very well-funded apps backed by large teams.
Anyway, back to the person who canceled.
While this person may have canceled because of a particular deficiency that was important to them, there are many other customers who will continue to renew because the thing that my app does well is impossible to find elsewhere. And therefore, the app will survive.
Of course, this shouldn't be interpreted as a reason to be complacent. As I mentioned, this person provided some valuable feedback, which I intend to act on, which, in theory, should potentially tip the scale in my app's favor the next time someone is comparing it with a competitor's.