Try before you buy

One of the biggest tech stories in the news today has been the new Apple App Store "try before you buy" apps. As far as I can tell this is actually just a separate section of the store where all the 'Lite' or 'Free' versions of pay for apps can be viewed in one place. In which case I don't see how this is anything new at all.

In order to actually bring something new to the App Store and deliver better value for money for iPhone, iPad, iPod users what Apple actually needs to do is implement the 24 hour refund policy that is available on the Android Market.

I'm sure that the immediate concern for Apple with introducing such a policy would be a reduction in revenue generated through the App Store. I know I've definitely bought several apps that I wish I could have returned for a full refund and anyone who has spent even just a little bit of time browsing the apps will know that there is a lot of tat there.

But let's consider this from another view point. Normally I'm very careful about what I pay for and never really spend more than a pound or two on any particular app so I'm probably missing out on quite a few good ones. But if I knew that I could get a full refund for an app that I didn't like within 24 hours then I would probably be less conservative when considering whether or not to buy. I would certainly consider buying some of the slightly more expensive ones. All in all I think I would end up spending more money in the App Store than I do now.

As I see it, implementing this kind of policy would benefit the user considerably. It would generate the same if not more revenue for Apple and developers of good apps that are value for money would get more sales. There would also be no need for developers to waste time creating 'Lite' versions of their apps in the hope of enticing customers into purchasing the full version later on.

The only people who would suffer a loss would be those people who develop useless or low quality apps that cannot hold a user's attention for longer than 24 hours. As far as I'm concerned apps that can't do that don't deserve to make any money in the first place.

Update January 21, 2011:

Google recently changed their refund policy on the Android Market. Customers no longer have 24 hours to claim a full refund but instead have only 15 minutes in which to do so. This is by no means ideal, but hey, it's better than nothing.