It’s hard to fault a product that has been as successful as Apple’s App Store. Sales are through the roof, just about every major competitor has already copied the concept or at least plans to and perhaps most importantly, iPhone and iPod Touch users love it. As is often the case however, Apple seems to get a kick out of taking two steps forward while taking one step back. iPhone: Brilliantly usable and attractive UI, nice and functional, likely still the best touch experience on the market… but it completely lacks a plethora of basic and essential functionality. App Store: Likely the best mobile app distribution platform in the industry, wonderfully simple UI with great navigation, terrific organization with simple search functionality… but there is no way for a typical user to trial an App before buying it.
Apple fans are once again beginning to voice concerns over the lack of demo / trial versions and odds are pretty good these complaints will fall on deaf ears. Apple apparently sees its policy allowing developers to add “lite” versions of apps to the App Store as a viable solution and this stance isn’t likely to budge any time soon. The truth of course, is that lite versions are the worst possible answer. Forcing developers to maintain two active versions of the same app is ridiculous at best, especially when the concept of a software trial is about as old as Betty White. Why not just create a self destruct timer mechanism?
Provide a trial download on each app page and have the trial version auto-expire after five or seven days. When the trial life runs out, the app will open one last time to inform the user of this and a link will take the user back to the app page in the App Store. Sounds simple enough. Would it take time to implement? Of course – everything takes time and resources but the ends would certainly justify the means. Would it be cracked? Of course – but considering it takes all of one click to crack an app now, that should be the least of Apple’s concerns. Besides, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: 999 out of 1,000 times, people who use a cracked version of software would not pay for it even if they had no other choice. It’s just the nature of the beast. So what do you guys think – does this sound doable or should we just shut up and go back to moaning about lack of copy / paste?