Why app developers want free trials on Apple’s iOS App Store

“Independent developers have always been an important part of the App Store, fueling the iPhone with innovative ideas that have trickled into bigger apps and even into iOS itself,” Christina Bonnington writes for Slate. “These indie developers, typically working solo or in small teams, have a problem that bigger studios and VC-backed apps don’t always face: They need to charge money for their app in order to make a living.”

“And in a market with as much variety as Apple’s App Store, it’s not difficult for iOS users to search for an app, see that $0.99 price tag, and scoff at the idea of spending money for an app on their $1,000 handset,” Bonnington writes. “While 88 percent of the apps in the App Store are ‘free,’ many hide their true cost through in-app purchases, frequent annoying advertisements, or selling personal data.”

Bonnington writes, “A growing group of developers is lobbying Apple for a change that they think would help them better monetize their work: free trials for apps. It’s an idea that would benefit not just app makers, but app users and Apple itself.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why free trials don’t already exist on Apple’s App Store is as perplexing as trying to sell a smart speaker based on sound quality while shipping it without stereo paring capability or a 4.5-year-old thermal dead-end as your top-of-the-line desktop computer. Etcetera.

There’s only one reason for such fiascos: Systemic mismanagement that’s allowed to continue because the last items with which Steve Jobs revolutionized the world continue to reap massive profits, occluding all else for those who don’t or won’t look closely enough to see the rot spreading underneath the gilding, including Apple’s Board of Directors upon which, unfortunately, sits CEO Tim Cook, chief enabler of Apple’s cultural rot.

Money changes everything.Cyndi Lauper

Apple’s MacBook butterfly switch keyboards target of second class action lawsuit – May 23, 2018
Apple to give Siri new voice at WWDC? No. Old news – May 22, 2018
Apple HomePod disappoints with weak sales after tardy debut that missed Christmas shopping season – April 12, 2018
Apple tumbles 24 spots – from 5th to 29th – in Harris Reputation Poll – March 13, 2018
Apple shakes up software development strategy to focus on quality – February 12, 2018
Apple on Mac flaw: ‘We apologize to all Mac users. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes.’ – November 29, 2017
Tim Cook’s sloppy, unfocused Apple rushes to fix a major Mac security bug – November 29, 2017
What to do about Apple’s shameful Mac security flaw in macOS High Sierra – November 29, 2017
Under ‘operations genius’ Tim Cook, product delays and other problems are no longer unusual for Apple – November 20, 2017
Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
On the future of Apple’s Macintosh – February 6, 2017
Apple is misplaying the hand Steve Jobs left them – November 30, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


    1. The fact is that Apple is “trying to sell a smart speaker based on sound quality while shipping it without stereo paring capability” and “a 4.5-year-old thermal dead-end” as their “top-of-the-line desktop computer.”

      Do you find that indicative of good management? Or does it pain you so much to have one of Apple biggest-ever proponents, MacDailyNews, point out such mismanagement that’ll you’ll instead choose to attack the messenger?

    2. In this Take, MDN proclaims Time Cook to be the “…chief enabler of Apple’s cultural rot.” In other recent Takes, MDN is much kinder to Apple and Cook.

      Regardless, I do not dispute the underlying validity of MDN’s complaints, even when they are draped in flowery prose and hyperbole. Apple has failed to adequately perform on multiple fronts over the past five years. I expected better and it is time for Apple to deliver better on a consistent basis.

  1. MDN quoting a SJW LGBT activist… never thought I’d see the day.

    So, they need to charge for their apps to make money and they see the best way of doing that is to… offer their apps for free? I think we’re finally to the point where if your app isn’t selling, there’s nothing Apple can do, it’s just not good. Swallow your pride, make the changes your customer is asking for or watch as someone else does it.

    Many people read what others have posted about an app (in some cases watch their YouTube videos) and buy based on that. If there’s no one excited enough to basically provide free advertising for you, you did something wrong.

    1. The point is that people have gotten used to free apps, or apps that appear to be free, but are monetized via in-app purchases and/or advertising and collection/sale of personal data. The concept is that rather than clicking past a candidate app that costs money, a free trial option would enable people to try the app without risk and, then, purchase it after evaluating its value and functionality. It may or may not help to increase sales of paid apps, but a trial period approach was commonly employed with software in the past, so it would appear to have merit. And what does Apple have to lose by giving it a shot? If it makes the developers happier and does not require too much effort on Apple’s part, then I believe that Apple should try it.

      1. Effectively, how is “free, but are monetized via in-app purchases” different from “free, but are monetized by a later purchase”? Isn’t a trial in this case everything that happens before the in-app purchase anyway? In fact, I can’t even think of a single app category that I think would perform any better as a “trial” than it would as an “in-app purchase”. For any “trial” offer you can think of, I can devise a way of using IAP which would be effectively the same as a trial.

        As much as some of these app developers might think, if their app was fantastic, amazing, incredible, it would be selling and they would be making money. I think it’s hard for many of them to come to terms with “people don’t like my app.” That’s a hard thing to swallow. SO, they latch onto OH! Apple just needs to offer my app for free! What’s next, Apple needs to provide a way for developers to pay people to try their app?

  2. The percentage of associated problems across all of Apple’s business elements seems not to be significantly better or worse under Jobs’s guidance than Cook’s. As time passes, we tend to forget the bad stuff that the haters ranted incessantly against Jobs about during that time period. It may seem like more because Apple has its fingers in many more pies now. There may be more issues but the percentage compared to the whole of Apples business is about the same. If you don’t agree, go back and look.

    The only difference is that MDN has become the hater and the ranter rather than the cheerleader it used to be.

    And why is that? Because MDN hates Cook’s liberal politics. End of story.

    If you want to argue that Cook is not the visionary Jobs was, that would be fair. But the concern over the issues is crap and will be addressed over time as always.

    All you Cook trolls are just whiny, self-righteous, armchair- Apple CEO’s who think you know something but in fact have no clue as to what it take to oversee such an overwhelmingly complicated operation.

    Name a person that you would choose to replace him. Good luck.

    1. In general, I agree, There are plenty of examples of similar issues during the SJ reign at Apple.

      * Lack of third party apps on the original iPhone along with 2G service
      * Extended use of G4 CPUs (inability to use the G5) leading to performance shortfall relative to Intel-based PCs in the early to mid-2000s
      * Insistence on smaller iPhone form factors for single-hand use
      * Hockey puck mouse

      I am sure there are more, but those examples will suffice. In terms of initial product releases, Apple has always had its ups and downs. However, Apple generally does a great job of rapidly evolving and refining those products into real winners — the Apple Watch, for example, is a major success story.

      The difference, now, is how Apple maintains its core businesses like the Mac. Apple clearly has the size and resources to do a much better job of evolving and regularly updating its product lineup. If you go back to the mid- to late-2000s, Apple did a much better job of regularly updating Macs while also releasing new products like the MBA.

      Apple should do better. Apple can do better. Apple must do better.

      1. I’ve said this before in previous article comments, but my feeling is that SJ really set the stage for the current Mac neglect. For one, he was quoted as saying that Apple should milk the Mac for all it is worth and then move on to the next big thing. It seems he did just that. Jobs was adamant about simplification. He wanted computers to have no cables so he eschewed modular computers which required cables to the display, keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. He also very astutely realized that the Mac could never win against entrenched pc’s because of MS’s stranglehold on the enterprise. So he formulated an end run around the pc paradigm by taking the fight to the consumers by offering irresistible mobile devices. As such he throttled up Apples efforts, full steam ahead on mobiles and to a lesser extent, laptop computers, and lesser still iMacs. But he categorized workstations and modular computers as trucks and thus gave little attention to the Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and the Xserve. I think he felt that the iMac was all the computer most people needed. I believe he emparted these attitudes to his successors who proceeded to give second level status to the development.

        Now Apple is realizing that they need to not let the Mac Line whither and I believe that are working on that.

        But here is another thing to consider: What if the reason they have neglected the Mac is because they are working hard to base the new Macs on a cpu to be designed in-house and do not want to develop another iteration of intel Macs. The problem is that to do so will require not only developing the cpu and the Mac itself, but it also requires writing an emulator (like Rosetta when the move from PowerPC chips to Intel chips) to run legacy software until they can get developers on board. This is not to mention they have to write a compatible version of the MacOS and native versions of all Apple software. These are huge undertakings that take years to get off the ground and may likely be holding up the designing of the Macintosh line. Apple has done this 2 or 3 time in its history, but the fact is, it is so difficult to do that no other company would even risk such an undertaking. (I’m looking at you MicroSoft)

        I don’t think it is safe to assume that the Mac is being neglected, when it could be that the Mac is being reinvented. We don’t know because we are not there.

        1. Till Apple announces or releases the hypothetical Mac with their own cpu, ‘perception’ is for all practical purposes here, ‘reality’. We can call it the negative Reality Distortion Field.

      2. I take a “core business” to be your money maker, your bread winner. That thing that, even if you had to scale back your company, you could never cut. To me, the Mac is about as far from that as you could get. Their “core business” is iOS.

        1. While I would agree that at present Apple’s “core business” is iOS, forgetting that until iOS has proper tools to develop iOS software, it relies on the foundation of macOS. If the foundation disappears the entire ‘building’ resting on it will crumble quickly.

    2. Someone’s going to say “Genius Titan of the Tech World (that, strangely enough, no one apparently wants at their tech company)” Scott Forstall. And to that, I would say that a requirement should be that the proposed replacement should have experience running a company that makes at least 1/10th of what Apple does today, for at least one year. Is that too much to ask?

    1. If Apple emulated Amazon’s “Testdrive” feature (shuttered in 2015) that allowed trying out Apps in a virtual device hosted in the browser, it may alleviate developer’s concerns as well as show users not yet owners of iOS devices, how nice iOS Apps are. All without transferring ‘ownership’ of the App. If need be I could see a time limit (say 5 minutes) placed on each instance.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.