You’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” I’m going to let you in on a secret, there’s no such thing as a free Bible app. Let’s consider the most popular free Bible app, YouVersion. In 2013, it was estimated that over $20 million dollars has gone into the making and promoting of this software. It’s free for you and me, but someone is obviously contributing to the huge amount of work that it takes to write and support a digital Bible program.
We originally charged $5 for meBible. Most people don’t realize just how complicated meBible is “under the hood.” meBible is not just an icon or text on the screen, it’s tens of thousands of lines of very complex computer code that has been years in the making. So if $5 sounds like a lot for an app, consider that I grew up in an age when a company would easily charge $99 for software like meBible. Five dollars is a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
The thing is, we live in an age when everyone expects everything digital to be free. I’m guilty of this, too. If I see an app that costs more than a couple of dollars, I really hesitate before buying it, even though I truly understand how much time and effort goes into writing these apps. This “downward dive” of perceived value affects not only software, but it’s also affecting books, music, videos, even hardware like cellphones. The news has been full of stories about this very phenomena: Taylor Swift vs. Spotify, Amazon vs. Hachette, etc.
meBible has been a free app for a few years now. The main catalyst behind this was the stipulation of our partners who offer us modern, copyrighted Bible translations. In an age and society that has commercialized the gospel to the point of becoming the “den of thieves” that Jesus rebuked, I’m actually glad we decided to offer meBible for free. I am also very thankful for the ministries like American Bible Society and Faith Comes By Hearing that provide us with free translations and audio!
However, my point remains – there is no such thing as a free Bible – somebody pays the price. I personally have shouldered much of the cost of meBible in the countless hours given to this project. I had hoped that the premium content (styles, notebooks, etc) would help financially compensate for this time, but the truth is that it has not. This is where a large ministry like LifeChurch excels – they have the resources to cover the cost of a “free” Bible app. My little company, not so much.
Please read my blog post entitled meBible – Past, Present, Future to learn more about our future plans for meBible. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of meBible and wish to see our work continue, please consider supporting that work by purchasing some of the premium content that meBible offers. You might also consider purchasing our other Bible study program, Word Cross. Remember, there truly is no such thing as a free Bible app.