One of the biggest initial issues I had with the iTunes App Store was the lack of free trials. Maybe I’m just biased after years of free Windows Mobile trial applications, but I don’t think so. Consumers don’t want to spend $5, $10, $20 or more on an application only to find out it really doesn’t meet their needs. There’s still many pay-for apps that don’t offer trials, but I’m starting to see a growing trend of "lite" apps appearing.
Most of what I’m finding are games, so I hope this trend moves into other software genres, but when I searched the App Store for the word "lite", I found nearly two dozen titles. Since many are games, the apps tend to offer a set number of game levels to try while the paid versions boosts the number of levels far beyond that of the free version.
It looks like the stumbling block in all of this is the simple, but limiting mechanism used to buy apps. There are no license keys when you buy; you simply enter your iTunes credentials to get your app. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t offer developers any provision to offer a fully functional app for any length of time, nor does it provide a mechanism to unlock a full version. Hopefully, one of two things happens. Either Apple creates such a mechanism or developers find a way to offer full functionality for a given length of time. I like the former option because the burden shouldn’t be put on each individual developer in my opinion. Apple wants to control the environment, so I think they need to create a solution for that environment. Until that happens, I’ll keep searching the store for "lite" apps.