Apple: No Trials in the Mac App Store


If you want to provide potential customers with a demo or otherwise function-limited version of your game so they can test it out before purchase, Apple wants you to do it on your own time and in your own space. The Mac App Store will be trial- and demo-free.

That’s according to new documents released late Thursday. The new updates surrounding Mac App Store policy appeared in Apple’s News and Announcements for Apple Developers Thursday evening, in anticipation of the approaching launch of Apple’s new OS X software sales and distribution platform. The Mac App Store is expected to go live sometime in January, if Apple keeps to Steve Jobs’ stated timeline.

The new info told developers to keep demo versions of their software out of Apple’s arena:

Your website is the best place to provide demos, trial versions, or betas of your software for customers to explore. The apps you submit to be reviewed for the Mac App Store should be fully functional, retail versions of your apps.

Of course, on the iOS App Store, while the word “demo” never actually appears, publishers are free to release trial versions of their programs, most often appearing as standalone “Lite” applications. These are distributed for free, and contain a limited preview of the full version’s gameplay. Apple not allowing these types of apps on the Mac App Store could have a serious impact on sales.

Apple’s logic seems to be that if users can access demos elsewhere, it’d rather not deal with them at all. With iOS, which is a completely closed ecosystem (not counting jailbreaking), the only way for a user to download and install software is through the App Store, so Cupertino has no choice but to allow Lite editions, lest developers abandon the platform altogether.

I won’t miss trials, since I’ll track them down wherever they may reside, but I don’t think the Mac App Store isn’t designed with users like me in mind. It seems tailored toward the casual Mac owner, who would otherwise not download much or any third-party software. My worry is that without quick and easy access to demos, that crowd won’t pony up for the full versions in anywhere near the numbers they might otherwise.

How do you feel about this particular Mac App Store limitation, as both consumers and developers?

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