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Try Before You Buy Comes to the App Store…Sort of

Apple (s aapl) has introduced a new Try Before You Buy section to the ever-popular App Store. However, it’s not something that you should get too excited about; the new section only highlights the free and lite applications already available within the store.

The section was revealed yesterday by showcasing just under 100 free-of-charge applications. Those on display include the popular game Angry Birds Lite, navigation app Geocaching Lite, and a lite version of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

The App Store has often been criticized for not offering any demos of applications, while other app stores have some sort of demo feature in place. For example, Google’s (s goog) competing Android Market allows its users up to 24 hours to try the application, offering a refund policy if it’s not what the user had in mind. Microsoft (s msft) has revealed that it also plans to offer users a trial period for apps when its Windows Phone 7 marketplace arrives later this year.

Apple’s introduction of this new category has been deemed an attempt to seemingly offer demos on the App Store to remain competitive with Android and the upcoming Windows Phone 7 markets. However, it’s fairly clear that this new Try Before You Buy category is nothing more than a listing. The majority of App Store users will see it for what it really is.

Does Apple even need to offer users demos of apps? The app store has been selling apps aplenty for over two years now and although a handful of users do complain, leaving bad reviews in their wake, this by no means seems to be a widespread concern for most app customers.

Of course, for those snapping up the occasional 99 centĀ application, a demo service doesn’t really seem justified. But when laying down $40 for the Tom Tom app, a brief sample of what the application can offer would probably be appreciated.

What are your thoughts on app trials? Would you like to see demos in the app store, or are you happy with the current setup? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Is Marketing Key to Mobile App Store Sales?

7 Responses to “Try Before You Buy Comes to the App Store…Sort of”

  1. Developer issue. Nothing to do with Apple and App store. Apple curently provide framework for developers to promote & sell (or give away) their apps. Clearly the apple developers can run trial periods, lite apps etc.

    The irony with this story and suggesting apple should put more controls in place is that they come under fire for being teh “walled garden”. Do you want apple to take more control. If I were a developer I WOULD NOT want apple to take any more control.

  2. I think it should be up to the dev how they handle trials. Apple job here is that they should create the API’s required to offer the developers the functionality needed. Time limited trials and lite versions for the most part cover it but there is still room for improvement.

  3. Trials are one of the main reasons the android market hasn’t taken off yet. A market needs to make money for the sellers in order to have inventory for the buyers … otherwise no one will make apps for the platform.

    Look at how useless the android games market, compared to how awesome the apple games market is, for proof of this dynamic.

  4. I think it’s down to developers as it is possible to offer there apps as the free lite or time restricted versions then offer an in app purchase to the full version. This would solve all problem like have to download the full version separately and deleating the lite one. And also as it was free u would not need a refund. Every ones a winner

    • Matt Sears

      The question isn’t should apple itself make the trial versions which they shouldn’t, its if they should make a better system of deployment or add some sort of regulation. With android you have 24 hours to test it and if you don’t want it you’ll get your money refunded. That’s in the android OS not the developers app. For windows phone 7 from what they have said, you can download a trial version which can offer partial functionality, let you get to a certain point (like beating the first level in a game) or simply put a time on how long you can use it. After that you can choose to purchase the app, while still in the app in which case it will download and override the trial version. That’s the main problem with iPhone apps, if you get a lite version then the full one you have to first search the app store for the full one download it then find the lite version in your own app inventory and delete it. There’s lot of unnecessary steps from IOS and imo winpho7 offers the best method.