Apple's free app trials a band-aid, will be tough on developers

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 7
Apple's recent codification of free app trials in App Store guidelines is really just cementing an existing practice, and still leaves many problems on the table for developers and consumers alike.




Developers have been using in-app purchases as a way of enabling free trials since at least Sept. 2016, according to MarsEdit creator Daniel Jalkut. The system is described as "bolted on," with a variety of practical issues, such as the fact that iPhone and iPad users may feel deceived. Trial-enabled apps are listed as "free," even though something like MarsEdit costs $49.95 to use in the long term.

Apple's system also excludes apps from the Volume Purchase Program and Family Sharing, and prevents them from reaching the top of the "Paid" App Store charts. If they somehow rank high on "Free" charts, the deception problem rears its head.

Jalkut also complains that transaction mechanics are foisted onto developers, including an unnecessarily complicated means of resetting trials whenever a new version is released.

Shortly after WWDC started, Apple changed its guidelines to state that a trial via in-app purchase is allowed so long as it "clearly identify its duration, the content or services that will no longer be accessible when the trial ends, and any downstream charges the user would need to pay for full functionality." Trials were previously only permitted for subscription services, such as on-demand video.

At the same time the company left another guideline intact, saying that "demos, betas, and trial versions of your app don't belong on the App Store," blocking the release of separate trial software.

Jalkut's position was reinforced on Twitter, for instance by Tweetbot developer Paul Haddad.

"I really don't care about free trials," he wrote on Wednesday. "Proper paid upgrades are far more important, I'd love to know why Apple refuses to implement them."

Nice analysis of the WWDC news regarding "Free Trials" in the App Store. I agree this is far from optimal or user friendly https://t.co/KaMo7JYk4U

-- Kevin Hill (@ChronoSoft)

Totally agree with this post about the newly allowed time-based trials on the Mac App Store. Too hard to implement (3 different modes in an app), too confusing to customers, and a lot of other sharp corners. https://t.co/RFuSgRJJWe

— Jacob Gorban (@jacobgorban)
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,047member
    Simple.

    Because Apple believes, rightly or wrongly, that subscriptions are the way to go.

  • Reply 2 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,302member
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    StrangeDayslamboaudi4
  • Reply 3 of 27
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,775member
    The comments above show why I dislike APPL investors. They don't care if Apple is creating crap as long as its stock keeps climbing. Such a perspective makes Apple no better than Microsoft of the 90's.
    avon b7holmstockdmuthuk_vanalingamdasanman69
  • Reply 4 of 27
    flydogflydog Posts: 93member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Simple.

    Because Apple believes, rightly or wrongly, that subscriptions are the way to go.

    And you know this because you've sat in on executive meetings at Apple? 
    Sgt Storms(trooper)gatorguy
  • Reply 5 of 27
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,177member
    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    holmstockdSgt Storms(trooper)muthuk_vanalingamgatorguy
  • Reply 6 of 27
    The comments above show why I dislike APPL investors. They don't care if Apple is creating crap as long as its stock keeps climbing. Such a perspective makes Apple no better than Microsoft of the 90's.
    AAPL investors like the equity because its user base (wealthier and more discerning than bargain hunters uncaring of issues like quality) continues to grow. Because of Apple’s customer demo graphic Apple enjoys profits none of its competitors (who are producing crap) do. 

    You are either cheap (anybody can afford an Apple product if they want to), uncaring of quality, a dedicated Android fanboy, or envious that others are making money and you are not. 
    StrangeDaysSgt Storms(trooper)jony0
  • Reply 7 of 27

    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    Neither does Apple say how much went to the majors!  If an indie developed something compelling they’d be among the top earners. It’s that simple. 
    StrangeDaysSgt Storms(trooper)jony0
  • Reply 8 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,302member
    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    How does one become an indie iOS developer?
  • Reply 9 of 27
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,177member

    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    Neither does Apple say how much went to the majors!  If an indie developed something compelling they’d be among the top earners. It’s that simple. 
    That’s the biggest pile of dogshit I’ve ever heard. Indie developers will never earn what major companies that crap our games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans do. But many of these indie developers are (or were) the biggest evangelists for Apple products. Why Apple would want to make their lives more difficult I don’t understand.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 27
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,733member

    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    Neither does Apple say how much went to the majors!  If an indie developed something compelling they’d be among the top earners. It’s that simple. 
    That’s the biggest pile of dogshit I’ve ever heard. Indie developers will never earn what major companies that crap our games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans do. But many of these indie developers are (or were) the biggest evangelists for Apple products. Why Apple would want to make their lives more difficult I don’t understand.
    How does Apple make their lives more difficult?
  • Reply 11 of 27
    The in-app purchase model is f*cked. It is basically only suited for a few special type of apps, like a newspaper or magazine, where you pay per article. Or it could make sense for Navigation apps, where could buy additional countries from within the app.
    But for most other apps, it makes absolutely no sense to sell them for "free" and then buy add-ons inside the app to actually use it. It would be much better for such apps to be allowed to have up to 5 versions in the app store (e.g. 1 free demo, 1 version with basic features and 1 with full feature set).
    This would force developers of "competing" apps to also compete on price. As it is now it's impossible to figure out the actual cost of an app.
    And as for free games, the situation is just absurd. Most games are now made deliberately boring (introducing wait times, to lure you to buy in-app gold, diamonds or smurf-berries). And there is no way of knowing what the game will cost you.
    All of this is definately not what is best for consumers. Unfortunately since Tim Cook took over, it seems like making shareholders happy is more important than doing what's best for Apple's consumers.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,102member
    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    You don’t have to support everything Apple does. It’s a company, not a cult. 
    edited June 7 rogifan_newmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 27
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,102member

    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    Neither does Apple say how much went to the majors!  If an indie developed something compelling they’d be among the top earners. It’s that simple. 
    That’s the biggest pile of dogshit I’ve ever heard. Indie developers will never earn what major companies that crap our games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans do. But many of these indie developers are (or were) the biggest evangelists for Apple products. Why Apple would want to make their lives more difficult I don’t understand.
    How does Apple make their lives more difficult?
    By not allowing proper upgrades etc. It’s all in the article. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 27
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,102member
    The in-app purchase model is f*cked. It is basically only suited for a few special type of apps, like a newspaper or magazine, where you pay per article. Or it could make sense for Navigation apps, where could buy additional countries from within the app.
    But for most other apps, it makes absolutely no sense to sell them for "free" and then buy add-ons inside the app to actually use it. It would be much better for such apps to be allowed to have up to 5 versions in the app store (e.g. 1 free demo, 1 version with basic features and 1 with full feature set).
    This would force developers of "competing" apps to also compete on price. As it is now it's impossible to figure out the actual cost of an app.
    And as for free games, the situation is just absurd. Most games are now made deliberately boring (introducing wait times, to lure you to buy in-app gold, diamonds or smurf-berries). And there is no way of knowing what the game will cost you.
    All of this is definately not what is best for consumers. Unfortunately since Tim Cook took over, it seems like making shareholders happy is more important than doing what's best for Apple's consumers.
    The games are designed to be gimped. It’s incredible. To play a recent Harry Potter themed game with my niece I spent 10€ for an hour or two play. It was that or wait a few days. It would have taken literally hundreds of euros to play the “game” - there was no real skill.  Deleted. 
  • Reply 15 of 27
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member
    The comments above show why I dislike APPL investors. They don't care if Apple is creating crap as long as its stock keeps climbing. Such a perspective makes Apple no better than Microsoft of the 90's.
    Too bad your assessment is wildly off base. Apple isn’t creating “crap”, they’re creating the most valued products and ecosystem as rated by those who matter most — their customers. People love iPhones, iPads, Macs, Watch, AirPods, etc... And they keep voting this way with their wallets, over and over, creating the most valuable and successful company in history. 

    And in fact their stock is slow to acknowledge this as Mr. Market doesn’t understand Apple and punishes it while reward lower-profit companies.

    “But but but it’s crap!”

    rolleyes
  • Reply 16 of 27
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member

    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    Neither does Apple say how much went to the majors!  If an indie developed something compelling they’d be among the top earners. It’s that simple. 
    That’s the biggest pile of dogshit I’ve ever heard. Indie developers will never earn what major companies that crap our games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans do. But many of these indie developers are (or were) the biggest evangelists for Apple products. Why Apple would want to make their lives more difficult I don’t understand.
    Guess who created Candy Crush? An indie developer. They make it big and eventually sold the company. That’s how it works. 

    So so why are you hand-waiving and concern trolling over yet another topic?
    fastasleep
  • Reply 17 of 27
    asdasd said:
    The games are designed to be gimped.
    Exactly. Game developers should be at work making new exciting games that are fun to play. But the app store seems to reward shit titles that are designed to rip you off, or have you wait endlessly for fictional upgrade-times.
    It's quite sad, I think  :(
    I have never spent a single dollar on in-app purchase and I never will. I will happily buy a game or app that is honest enough to charge $1, $2, $10 or whatever for their product. This is the only way to change things - stop making in-app purchases.
    edited June 7 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 27
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 527member
    The in-app purchase model is f*cked. It is basically only suited for a few special type of apps, like a newspaper or magazine, where you pay per article. Or it could make sense for Navigation apps, where could buy additional countries from within the app.
    But for most other apps, it makes absolutely no sense to sell them for "free" and then buy add-ons inside the app to actually use it. It would be much better for such apps to be allowed to have up to 5 versions in the app store (e.g. 1 free demo, 1 version with basic features and 1 with full feature set).
    That is not best for Apple customers. That is “confusing”.
    Too Many app version will only confuse customers. 
    edited June 7
  • Reply 19 of 27
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,177member

    lkrupp said:
    So some developers are unhappy? I guess that statement that Apple paid over $1 Billion to developers is just a big lie? Apple developers suffer in silence while raking in the money? The unhappy ones are leaving the platform in droves and Apple is doomed?
    And how much of that $1B went to indie developers? Apple never says.
    Neither does Apple say how much went to the majors!  If an indie developed something compelling they’d be among the top earners. It’s that simple. 
    That’s the biggest pile of dogshit I’ve ever heard. Indie developers will never earn what major companies that crap our games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans do. But many of these indie developers are (or were) the biggest evangelists for Apple products. Why Apple would want to make their lives more difficult I don’t understand.
    Guess who created Candy Crush? An indie developer. They make it big and eventually sold the company. That’s how it works. 

    So so why are you hand-waiving and concern trolling over yet another topic?

    Is this article concern trolling? As someone above said, Apple is a company, not a cult. And honestly I care more about what developers say than kool-aid drinking posters at AI to whom Apple can never do wrong.

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 27
    asciiascii Posts: 5,816member
    I would like to see them offer Steam style refunds (you can return an app for any reason provided it was purchased within the last 14 days and you haven't used it for more than 2 hours). This should give people a way to try apps out, possibly leading to more sales, while at the same time causing poor quality apps to make less money, and is consumer friendly in general.
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