Android Marketplace will have free trials, but developers may pay


Googleandroidmarketplace_2One of my biggest gripes with the iTunes App Store is the lack of free trials. There seems to be little in the way of Apple logistics to offer this choice to developers. That’s one reason I’ve added less than a handful of paid applications to my iPhone. I simply don’t want to risk my money by purchasing software that doesn’t meet my needs. Just because an application is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good.The grass is slightly greener on the other side of the operating system: the Android Marketplace will allow for free, limited-trial applications. The only fly in this ointment is that there still may be a cost involved, just not to the consumer. T-Mobile intends to charge developers $2 per month for any free Marketplace app that will use more than 15-megabytes per month. I’d expect that many apps would fall into this category and I’m not sure exactly how T-Mobile has any say over this anyway. Last I checked, this was the Android Marketplace, not the T-Mobile Software Shop. That’s one way to subsidize the cost of that shiny, new 3G network. Lighting up San Francisco alone cost the carrier over $322 million dollars.



I haven’t added any paid apps to my iphone (which I’ve had since before the App Store opened). I find the free apps help with what I need. While a couple of paid apps sound good, I won’t buy unless free trials are offered (these are the kind of Apple policies that helped drive me from the Mac platform). I’m also considering the Android platform — I still prefer a physical keyboard to a virtual one.


To get around this, many developers have created “lite” versions of their apps for free, which in many respects is better than a trial.

The problem for developers is that if they don’t allow the lite version to do enough, then it isn’t a valid test for the user and they won’t buy the full app. However, if they do provide enough to be useful, then the user may decide that the lite app is all they need, and they still don’t buy the full app.

Moonlight Mahjong, Ecco Note, Labyrinthe LE, and iDoodle2 Lite are just four examples of the latter case. I did eventually buy the full Mahjong since I use it quite a bit. But the other three great apps are used seldom enough by me that I just can’t see springing for the full versions, though I may have bought one or two had they only been trials.

Not that I’m complaining, since the user wins in this scenario, but it is more effort for the developer.

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