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Why We Agonize Over Buying $1 Apps 523

Posted by samzenpus
from the little-things-add-up dept.
theodp writes "When it comes to explaining decision making and behavioral economics, Dan Ariely is the man. In his latest blog post, Ariely tackles the irrationality of app buying, explaining why the thought of paying even $1 for an app turns into an agonizing decision for those perfectly willing to spend $4 on coffee, or $500 on devices that they arguably don't really need. Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests, we would be anchored to the idea that apps should cost something. 'Then paying more (maybe even $2) for an app would be a simpler step,' he concludes, 'maybe one that we could take as easily as paying $4 for a latte.'"
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Why We Agonize Over Buying $1 Apps

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  • by bky1701 (979071) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:25PM (#38519308) Homepage
    As a long-time Linux user, one of the best points is that everything comes without strings attached. I would say "the idea that apps should cost something" is questionable at best, but leave it to Apple and their users to advocate it.
    • by samkass (174571) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:31PM (#38519396) Homepage Journal

      As a long-time Linux user, one of the best points is that everything comes without strings attached. I would say "the idea that apps should cost something" is questionable at best, but leave it to Apple and their users to advocate it.

      Not to rain on your troll, but I think the whole point of the article is that Apple and their users AREN'T advocating it.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:39PM (#38519508)

        Agreed. I don't think this has anything to do with the cost directly, but rather buyers remorse. There is nothing more irritating than buying something only to find that it sucks not to put too fine a point on it. This does not apply to a cup of coffee, or a coke because you know and expect them to be the same every time you buy them, and they generally are.

        Software is a different animal, and no different than anything else you buy and retain. It is not a common consumable that you know what it will taste like, or feel like. The other issue I believe has to do with choice. People agonize (if that's the proper word or not, as it seems a bit strong to me) over multiple choices where a simple coffee is nearly always the same brand, the same flavor, ect. If people choose the 'wrong' app, and that could have been used to buy the 'right' one, people get irritated.

        I think they over thought this one by a long shot.

        • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:54PM (#38519702) Homepage Journal

          If people choose the 'wrong' app, and that could have been used to buy the 'right' one, people get irritated.

          I think they over thought this one by a long shot.

          That's it in a nutshell. Nothing feels worse than being out $1, AND knowing that you were the dope that pulled the trigger on the wrong thing. Once this happens once or twice you start to get a real aversion toward app purchases in general. If there were a better remediation process than a 15 minute(!) window to claim a refund, or the ability to really stick it to the app dev by one-starring his app (out of 1,237,843 reviews) maybe people would feel more at ease about the purchase.

          The way it is today, you feel like you are at a bazaar and you are being hocked a $10 Rollex; you think to yourself "if this thing breaks even 15 minutes from now I will never see this guy again." Low low prices, nonexistent "Brands", and a lousy return policy all add up to a lousy "marketplace". If Apple (or whoever) wants to turn the tide on the flood of shit apps, they need to find devs who are better at branding, and give them ways to promote themselves. But then again, they are making billions off of people who have no problem plonking down $1 here and there without thinking twice, so why should they even care?

          • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:11PM (#38519920) Homepage

            Which is why I prefer free apps to try before I purchase the ad-free, full, extended, HD version or whatever. The fear of buyers remorse is the real agony here, not blowing 1$ on an app that you know you will like. So yes, I'm in total agreement with you.

          • by iamhassi (659463) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @07:16PM (#38520606) Journal

            The way it is today, you feel like you are at a bazaar and you are being hocked a $10 Rollex; you think to yourself "if this thing breaks even 15 minutes from now I will never see this guy again."

            ^----------- THIS. That's why apps live and die by their rating: I won't even bother downloading a FREE app if the rating is 2-stars or less.

            This is also why I'd rather buy on eBay than Craigslist. Even though Craigslist means I get to go physically touch the item I'm purchasing, if it breaks 5 minutes after leaving then I'm out of luck. At least eBay I have feedback and Paypal that *might* support me.

            I have a pretty good idea what my carmel latte will taste like. Movie previews are usually an accurate portrayal of what the movie will be like. I bought a used iPod Touch for $100 before being locked into a iPhone contract so I could see what the big deal was. But I've downloaded some truly horrible apps. Awful, disgusting, WTF apps. Apps I used for a minute and thought "Oh no! This isn't even close to the description!" It's the app equivalent of being rickrolled [wikipedia.org], and who likes to be rickrolled? Even though it takes only seconds out of your life, no one likes to think they were getting X and they're given Y instead. It comes down to this: no one likes to feel deceived. Lattes don't deceive. Movie previews don't deceive. iPhones/iPads don't deceive. App descriptions sometimes deceive and we don't like it.

            I wish the blog post would have mentioned the author's credentials. If anyone else is wondering "Why should we listen to this maniac?" according to his About page [danariely.com] he's "Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University"

            • by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @08:36PM (#38521300)

              That's why apps live and die by their rating: I won't even bother downloading a FREE app if the rating is 2-stars or less.

              Obligatory lesson on app ratings [xkcd.com]

              Ultimately the 5 star rating system are useless. When a new version comes out an app retains all their previous ratings are kept. One would argue as they should, but then there have been cases of app creators doing a dirty and with an update changing permissions to read out data in the phone and spy on the users. If you're one of the first people to update it then there's no indication of this. Neither would there be an indication using the 2-stars or less system.

              People tend to have centre point bias when asked personal questions, yet tend to bias to extremes when asked about experiences. If an app doesn't have more than 4 stars there's likely something very wrong with the app. Your typical "good" app, and in this sense good doesn't mean great, it simply means that it does what it says and works, would have something like >70% 5 stars. >90% >4 stars, and then a few 3 2 and 1 star posts from people who were too dumb to get it working, didn't read the description, or have it crash on their devices.

              Clear signs of trouble on the other hand are apps with lots of 5 star ratings, a good percentage of 1 star ratings and nothing in between. This is an indicator that the most recent update has really screwed something over.

              As always, the 1 star ratings are the ones we should be reading. They highlight the problems. Ebay buying should be done the same way. When I see a seller on ebay I check his reviews, I filter them by bad reviews and I see what kind of problems people have to judge if these are the kinds of issues I'm likely to face. Recently I found someone with a 98% positive review rate, filtering by negatives showed the sellers unwillingness to replace broken goods. So straight away I wouldn't have bought anything fragile off him despite his 98% score.

              Stars are over simplified.

            • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @11:32PM (#38522586)

              Movie previews don't deceive.

              They don't? Trailers that show all the big stunts in 15 seconds and the walk-on cameo by a star as if he was a featured actor; actresses that start to disrobe... out of context lines from reviews ...etc., etc.

          • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @08:33PM (#38521268)

            This is spot on!

            And this is why I "pirate" apps. But before you judge, I can make two statements with total honesty:
            1) I have ZERO pirated apps on any of my devices. ALL paid apps I have, have been purchased paid for.
            2) Every last app on my mobile devices has been "pirated" for 5-10 minutes.
            Every last one (Excluding built-in and free apps of course)

            My purchasing process goes like this:

            1) Is there a free version? If so, get that and try it, then jump to step 5
            2) No free trial/demo? Then I fire up installious and find the app in question.
            3) App not in warez form yet? Then stop - This app is no longer an option.
            4) Try warez version for 5-10 minutes or so, hitting 'deny all for session' in firewall, and then delete the app.

            5a) Did I like the app? If so, I return to the app store and purchase it.
            5b) Did I hate the app? It's already long deleted, so we are basically done here.

            The developers that DO provide a demo/trial version, you guys rock. Makes it very easy to decide if your app is for me and buy it, with 2/5ths the steps and much less time involved.

            The developers that don't, well, deal with it. If I can't demo it somehow, you are guaranteed to have lost a sale, and if I happen to have placed your company name in my memory, you have potentially lost all sales to me.

            I've easily spent over $500 on the apple store, and $200 on the Cydia store, in apps alone over both of my devices. It isn't worth it to me to fuck around with managing pirated apps in the long term, and have no interest in that.

            The first app I was ripped off from was a silly $1 game. It literally would not run on either of my devices. I was pissed but since it was only a dollar I let it slide.
            The second app however was a $10 development tool that was literally NOTHING like the description.

            BTW, the scam app was: App Designer HD, v1.2, Seller: Nate Chiger
            I see he lowered it from $10 to $1, no doubt trying to rip off even more people than before.
            If you read the description, that is not anything close to what the app really does.
            You get ONE of each GUI widget type, and can move the icon around on the screen like they were cutout on paper.
            Want two buttons or two switches on your screen? Too bad.
            In fact it would be easier and have MORE features to just use pen and paper instead of this piece of crap app.

            The developer nor Apple would refund the price. Ever since that day I won't even consider an app I can't try first, one way or the other.

            I ended up trying two different apps that filled this roll.
            iMockups [endloop.ca] (Also $10 but AWESOME) for doing GUI layout and design,
            and Codea [twolivesleft.com] ($8) for rapid prototyping (In Lua no less.)
            Both "pirated" for 10ish minutes each, and immediately purchased after deleting the warez copy.

            I have no problems paying for software. I do have problems getting ripped off.

          • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:05AM (#38525186)

            >That's it in a nutshell. Nothing feels worse than being out $1, AND knowing that you were the dope that pulled the trigger on the wrong thing.

            OMG, who give a ****?! I never agonized over an app purchase in my life. In fact, to me it's software that's as cheap (outside of Linux/OSS) as it's ever been and happens to be in a more usable package. I don't even know where to find the people who would, and I don't think I want them in my life as they probably think software engineers should work for free. It's not a damn bazaar, you can either look at the reviews online or on the reviews on the internet about most somewhat mainstream apps.

            I mean, in most cases it's a buck!!! In the 90s, I could return $60+ video games. If I go to the supermarket and buy anything, bread, a candybar, etc, taste it, don't like it, guess what? I can't return it (with any ease) and in most cases it's over a buck. Nor at a restaurant without getting in a huff.

            Can I return songs on iTunes? What?! No?! Damn, does this whole story and thread reads like a 1st world problems meme. Hell, I have 7 screens of app, deleted some I don't particularly care for but weren't worth my time bitching about. $0.99 cents? I can find that on the ground on the street.

            There are plenty of try before you buy apps too, having the old "lite version". In fact, the whole thing is the old PC industry mentalities, for better or worse, in terms of demos and what not. Nothing new here, Apple's App marketplace isn't going to fail, and it's not flooded with crap, 90% of everything in every media since stone age cave paintings was crap to begin with.

            For more great /. stories like this, check out:
            http://www.quickmeme.com/First-World-Problems/ [quickmeme.com]

        • by atmurray (983797) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:34PM (#38520162)
          I think you're pretty close to spot on but I disagree with one aspect and it got me thinking... Whilst with a coke you do know and expect the same every time, something like a coffee you don't. I'm somewhat of a coffee snob these days and can be pretty picky with my coffee, but I'll still chance $3 to $4 on something that I could regret later. Why? Then I realised, to counter-act buyer's remorse you have the ability to justify to yourself that at least if it is bad you can choose not to buy your coffee from that store again. Perhaps the analogy for app purchases is outright vs subscription purchases? It'd be interesting look at a comparison between paying, say $1 for an app, or paying $0.25 a month for the same app. I would hypothesise that people would be more willing to pay the $0.25 for one month (to at least trial the app for one month before paying the full $1) so they can "choose" to stop or not pay for the app in full even though this would mean that they'd have to "reject" 1 in 4 apps to just break even.
          • Just to play devil's advocate with the initial analogy: A bad coffee is still coffee. At least you get your caffeine fix and/or sugar hit. A useless app is entirely useless. The perceived and actual losses experienced are still far greater with the apps. It would be more like buying a coffee and risking ending up with a cup of water or air instead (and far more frequently than one gets a bad coffee too..)

            I do like this subscription idea, both as a user and a developer however. In the short term it gi
        • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:34PM (#38520168)
          I agree, and it's not just remorse over the $1, it's the time wasted. When you need ONE good app and search results give you 20 hits, what do you do? Spend all weekend playing with 20 apps? Then you ask on a forum and some joker says, "what's wrong with you, I just googled and there are 20 hits!"
          • by slashgrim (1247284) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @08:34PM (#38521288) Journal

            I agree, and it's not just remorse over the $1, it's the time wasted. When you need ONE good app and search results give you 20 hits, what do you do? Spend all weekend playing with 20 apps? Then you ask on a forum and some joker says, "what's wrong with you, I just googled and there are 20 hits!"

            That's why I prefer WebOS...there's only those 5 apps, and you know which ones are good because they've been on iOS and Android for like 2 years longer. ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ski9826 (2541112)
        I just read this article and it appears that the point of it is that we shouldn't balk over paying a buck for an app (can be used many times) when we are willing to pay up to 4 bucks for a coffee (a 1 time use item).
    • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:34PM (#38519434)
      I assume that you work for free, since you expect others to do the same.
    • by aaronfaby (741318)
      I don't know what you are implying given the plethora of free apps available on the app store. A developer should be able to get compensation for their work if they so choose.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bky1701 (979071)
        Yet the article complains that people are not giving them compensation, and instead prefer things to be free; so Apple should actually prevent things from being free. Am I the only one seeing a problem here?
        • by aaronfaby (741318)
          I think you are creating a problem that does not exist. People will always prefer free to having to pay. But the developer gets to choose whether their app is free or costs money, not Apple.
          • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:52PM (#38519676)

            But the developer gets to choose whether their app is free or costs money, not Apple.

            In a free commodity market situation, the developer doesn't get to select the sale price, the buyer has plenty of input, because if the price is too high, no sale. Go ahead, price your house at $10M and see what the sales price turns out to be. It'll be 0 because there will be no sale.

            The app store is not a free market so its pointless to compare it to commodity free markets like coffee shops where there is intense competition for standardized products.

            If the coffee shops were like the itunes app store, you'd pay $1 and most times you'd get a typical coffee but sometimes you'd get only half filled cup, and sometimes it would have a dead mouse floating in it, and sometimes it would turn out to be orange soda instead, but you'd have no real recourse and all you can do is hope it turns out better tomorrow, next time you shop at the world's ONE coffee shop.

            Note that the itunes MUSIC store is a commodity experience unlike the app store, you'll get exactly what you think you're buying 99.9999% of the time plus or minus human error. Ditto the itunes books and movies. Only the apps are a complete crapshoot.

    • You are one of those people that will pay $4 for a coffee but nothing for software.
      • by bky1701 (979071)
        Actually, I don't drink coffee. I also don't see why I should pay if there is a free alternative, and certainly not why free alternatives should be done away with to encourage me to pay people what they probably don't deserve (as evident by the fact they aren't getting it now).
        • Ok, subsitute the coffee with soda/tea/water/food, what ever you drink or eat. You in someway pay for any or all of those other types of beverages. So unless you don't spend any money and get all your food for free, you are one of those people.
          • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:58PM (#38519752)
            Creation of food inherently has a significant cost given current technology. If food could be copied as cheaply and efficiently as software, anybody that insists that food should be paid for is an idiot holding us back from having a Star Trek economy.

            The thing that's actually irrational is assuming there should be a fixed cost for something that, practically speaking, costs nothing to reproduce.
            • by superwiz (655733)
              But food doesn't have to be designed. If you had to create the seeds you planted by programming mother nature, you'd worry a lot more about those copying your seeds and a lot less about the cost of planting and growing them. In fact, that is exactly what the companies which do genetically modify seeds worry about. So the cost of design (even when it amounts to a slight modification) still contributes more to the overall cost than the cost of replication. There is nothing irrational in expecting that whe
          • by bky1701 (979071) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:16PM (#38519986) Homepage
            1. Food is a material thing. It costs money to create inherently, and because it is physical, it cannot (usually) be created in one's spare time. This does not apply to software, when can and is created for essentially free, and then distributed to the rest of the world at no cost. Unlike beverages, there is no cost to recoup, so it can be practically distributed for free. Any profit can be a gain.

            2. Your analogy ignores that free options exist. Should I pay for water if there is a man handing out free water a block down? I doubt you would. This article says we should arrest the man down the street in order to protect the water industry; that there is something inherently wrong with getting water for free; that we should always expect to pay for something. I disagree with that and as I said, Linux proves it doesn't have to work that way.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        The extra coffee costs something, an extra copy of a piece of software doesn't. If you don't provide support and people download your software from a 3rd party the cost of production is effectively the same whether you sell 1 copy or a billion copies.

        That's definitely not the case with coffee.

        That's not to suggest that the people writing the programs shouldn't be paid, but it's pretty ignorant to suggest that there aren't real costs for things like coffee beans and rent.

    • From TFS:

      one that we could take as easily as paying $4 for a latte

      Sorry, I don't pay that kind of money for a mediocre milky coffee. I've had many varieties of Starbucks fluids (on the company nickel) and while it's less bad than McDonalds, it's nowhere close to the European standards I'm accustomed to.

      As to "apps", well, value is in the eye of the consumer. And value to the customer is the primary determinant of a sustainable price (along with the competitive element). Most apps are middling in quality, mediocrity multiplied by millions. The few which are pol

      • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:02PM (#38519794)

        I've had many varieties of Starbucks fluids...

        Insert Battlestar Galactica joke here...

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually if you read the FSF website you will see that "Free as in speech" is not the same as "Free as in beer". The FSF has no problem with an author charging for the software. You are just supposed to get the code with it and you are allowed to modify it and or redistribute it.
      That is one of the problems with the GNU model. It works great if a bug company wants to pay for say a custom CMS or Accounting system. What it doesn't allow is for a way to distribute the cost of development over many users in an e

    • by Firehed (942385) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:48PM (#38519648) Homepage

      You're mixing economics with idealism. Everyone likes the idea of free software, and most people rely on it even if they don't realize that's the case. But due to the way people's brains are typically wired, having a baseline of >0 is advantageous for the seller. For example, if there were two apps, one free and one $2.00, the free one will have massively more downloads even if the paid one is significantly better. But change the pricing to $0.99 and $2.99 and "better" will tend to win out (well, the ratio will be a lot more in line with what you'd expect given the quality of what's being purchased, even if it's not actually making more sales) over "free", despite the same $2.00 spread between the products.

      As it turns out, people that don't want to pay for stuff tend to be lousy customers. So I don't feel bad if I don't gain a customer who thinks that my product is overpriced. If you think I'm not adding enough value for what I charge - that's fine, you're welcome to not use what I'm making (free market, etc). Other people are happy to pay, and they also tend to focus on the reasons my stuff is improving their lives rather than searching for flaws that would justify me offering a discount. I'm happy, my customers are happy, and my non-customers are no more or less whiny than they would be without me.

      As you might have guessed, I don't believe that all software should be free just because. I feel it's perfectly reasonable to ask for compensation if you're providing value, even if that value is in the form of carefully-arranged ones and zeroes. I would prefer that more software is Free (as in speech) if only to encourage interoperability, but that's a completely separate and mostly unrelated discussion. Anything that I create for free (which may or may not also be Free; generally it is) is strictly unsupported - it needs to fulfill my needs alone, and if you don't have to duplicate my efforts, then have at it! But as a general rule, I don't take feature requests on anything for which I'm not charging. I just don't have the time or energy.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:13PM (#38519952) Homepage Journal

        If you think I'm not adding enough value for what I charge - that's fine, you're welcome to not use what I'm making (free market, etc).

        Say I think your product is overpriced for what it does, and I make my own alternative product that's cheaper or free. To keep people from choosing my product over yours in a free market, you sue me on dubious grounds involving some sort of claimed infringement, on the basis that a settlement is cheaper than a competent legal defense. Is it still a free market?

    • In my country we have a minimum wage. You can expect to earn it if you're flipping burgers or stacking shelves. Your suggestion is that developers should earn less than that. Specifically nothing. Why do you undervalue the work of developers?

      (The standard Linux user answer to that is... do like Red Hat... charge for support. That argument doesn't work. That's a suggestion that support people should be paid, not that developers should be. Red Hat did not develop most of the software they get paid to support.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Which is why Linux, *BSD, GIMP, Blender, Firefox and all those other free projects have failed and disappeared.

        The reality is that for most types of software there are at least one or two free ones that do the job. Unless you're looking for something that's elaborate or very specific, chances are that there's a free program that does it.

        This isn't a matter of the GP or me devaluing their work, it's a matter of hobbyists flooding the market with programs that are often times of higher value than their commer

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      As another long-time Linux user, I can assure you Linux comes with PLENTY of strings attached. They may not be financial ones in the sense of requiring paid licenses to use the code, but users pay a considerable amount in time spent making it work the way they wish.

      I'm not against the concept of freeware, mind you. In fact, I'd be among the first to agree that much of the software on the market is extremely overpriced. But regardless? To a point, there's usually an initial trade-off where you pay some mon

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:25PM (#38519312)

    Free software has been around a lot longer than that. Even OSX and iOS are based on it.

  • eh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:25PM (#38519316)

    I agonise over paying for apps, thus locking me in to a platform even more with each successive purchase.

    • by tdelaney (458893)

      Because the free option does not meet my needs, and the paid option does.

      I can cite one specific case off the top of my head. I looked at all the free VNC and RDP apps I could find in the Android marketplace. Not one met my needs - all were clunky to use, etc. I read up on the paid options and Jump Desktop ($0.99) sounded like it met my requirements - both RDP and VNC; and easy to use (though I never remember how to click-and-drag ... give it time). I paid for it and am very happy I did so.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:10PM (#38519906)

      Why would you pay?

      You can get unlimited water in the river or falling out of the sky. Why would you pay for a beverage to quench your thirst?

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:27PM (#38519338)

    I think what it really comes down too is that people have a feeling that software being sold at $1 might as well be free. Deep down they know their own time is worth more than that, so why would they even give a dollar for what should be free?

    OTOH, software that has good features, seemingly good support, and solves a problem they have being sold at $20 actually seems like a more reasonable proposition.

    The only exception being tiny games. Although I think even Angry Birds was more than $1. I wouldn't know, I purchased it for the PC. That game is damn addictive.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      If the app offered the same satisfaction as the latte the decision wouldn't be agonizing.
    • by mcelrath (8027)

      OTOH, software that has good features, seemingly good support, and solves a problem they have being sold at $20 actually seems like a more reasonable proposition.

      The problem is identifying that software has good features, support, and solves a problem. The app store is full of half-finished weekend projects, each of which is a piece of shit. We'd all be better off if these guys combined forces, released source, and made an open-source app. The app store has a HUGE buyers remorse problem. The app store e

  • by superpete (867509) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:27PM (#38519342) Homepage
    Perhaps it's because there is no recourse for me as a consumer if the app just doesn't work. At least with that $4 coffee I can send it back if it's bad, can't do that with an app.
    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:31PM (#38519394)

      Perhaps it's because there is no recourse for me as a consumer if the app just doesn't work. At least with that $4 coffee I can send it back if it's bad, can't do that with an app.

      On an iphone. In the android market you simply request a refund. Never had to try it, but supposedly it is possible.

      • by Tharsman (1364603) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:39PM (#38519532)

        In the Android Market you get 15 minutes to requst a refund.
        In the iOS App Store, you can request a refund by reporting a problem, and writtng to Apple that you want a refund and the reasons for the refund. It's not as quick and automated, nor obvious, as the Android Market, but they give you up to 90 days to do this (or maybe 30 days... not 100% sure now.).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GrumpySteen (1250194)

        The refund official Android market does include a refund, but you only have a 15 minute window in which to request the refund. I've used it and it works.

        For simple programs and games, that's enough to determine whether you want to keep it or not. For more complex programs, it can be a bit of a race trying to figure out whether the program suits your purposes or not.

    • by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#38519426) Homepage Journal

      But lots of people agonized over their *first* latte. When they tasted it, and it was good, they were over the price very quickly.

      $1 apps are a risk. If it's no good, you've spent a buck for nothing, not even a lousy cup of coffee. If it's hohum, you'll probably use it, but the equation is $1certainty. In fact, a $1 app is something you either expect to suck, or will be surprised at how good it is. And since most apps suck (they do, get over it), you're rolling the dice. And you don't have winning odds.

      Now if most apps were $1, then we could get into the habit of springing for an app at a dollar, and usually getting something useful.

      But most apps suck. Even free is a loss, you've lost your time finding it, 'buying' it, and trying it out. 'Free' isn't even free.

      There's an economic theory that shows kids will take a sure thing rather than the apparently better deal that is not so obvious. This persists into adulthood.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      If you are on an iPhone, just go to the app page, report a problem, and request a refund. Just make sure to explain why (like app does not run on my phone/just crashes/etc.)

      Apple will get you your money back.

  • by frith01 (1118539) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:27PM (#38519344)

    I would never attach my Credit card to an app store, due to having a 6 yr old in my house who loves to play with my phone.

    Having a threshold at $1 means other developers also wont try to undercut at $0.9 , and drag the whole pile of apps down to $0.05 eventually.

  • Everyone is used to get software for free, either because it's really free or because they download a pirate version.
    Most of us don't steal coffee, gas, bread or anything else of physical existence, for that matter.

    Had Apple put a minimum price on apps and most people would use as little of those as possible. It's not like we are all buying our music through iTunes, is it?

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:28PM (#38519354) Journal

    why the thought of paying even $1 for an app turns into an agonizing decision for those perfectly willing to spend $4 on coffee,

    The answer is simple, isn't it? The seller is not making just one mug of coffee and keep selling clones of it at 4$ a mug. Would you really pay 4$ for a copy of a mug of coffee? Though we all know apps are created by labor and capital investment, though we know that app is as much a product as a mug of coffee is a product, though many of us actually make a living writing code, we still balk because we also know the cost of replication is zero. We should not think that way, but we do.

    • by uncledrax (112438)

      Well.. the cost of replication is not zero.. but it's a number very close to zero... your point is still valid though. :]

    • ...there is significant cost in producing that app before the duplication takes place, and many app developers like to eat.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Close, but the real problem is that Starbucks goes to extreme lengths to make sure each $4 coffee is as good as every other $4 coffee. I donno because I don't drink coffee or do the coffee shop scene from Friends. I assume there is no need to worry about your coffee? Even if conditions are unsanitary you'd think boiling water cures all evils, its not like eating at taco bell where I get food poisoning about 1/4 of the time. And the markup in price is so incredible compared to the material cost (what, li

  • by drolli (522659) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:30PM (#38519378) Journal

    In the year in which i own the galaxy tab i spend more for buying software than in the ten years before. If an app does what i want and it costs $1 then i buy it. the price has an eception ally low priority in my buying decisions.

    For andorid these are

    a) Does the app require unreasonable rights without explaining?

    b) has the app a clearly decribed concept what is does and what it doesnt?

    c) does the app behave reasonably in the refundable period?

    d) Are the many users with really strange problems.

    If all poitns above are right, and the app is not trivial, i will pay $10 without thinking

  • by Chemisor (97276) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:31PM (#38519400)

    I think it's much simpler than that. People don't understand what software does and really see no difference between the device and the programs that run on it. From that point of view, when you buy an app you are paying for something that's "already there", since it was a device that ran apps before and it's a device that runs apps now. The only change is the new app, which is not a tangible thing, but a behaviour. Paying for behaviour seems kinda like paying someone to teach your dog a new trick, and that's just plain silly.

  • by J'raxis (248192) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:33PM (#38519416) Homepage

    ...I've worked with OSS for a decade, even $0.15 sounds ridiculous for a piece of software.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:56PM (#38519724)

      I actually develop and write software. I would pay $1000/yr to continue using software like Debian.

      Frankly, you can download and use Debian for free because of charity of others. Because others said "we care more about feedback than leeches".

      When you pay money for software, you give someone reason to continue to work on it. Or to work on new software. If you do not pay (like most of OSS), then you better be able to maintain your own mission critical software as there is absolutely no motivation for the maintainer or developer to continue to support you.

      Things like Linux are not free-beer. Lots of people/companies pay lots of money to continue development of Linux. Without those sponsors, Linux would be where HURD is today.

  • by drb226 (1938360)

    Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests, we would be anchored to the idea that apps should cost something.

    Yeah...because the concept of an "app" wasn't invented until the iPod/iPhone came around...

  • You should see Dan Ariely speak. I didn't realize I had seen him previously until I read his bio on the linked website. He is really a great speaker and has a great amount of insight into irrational thinking. He gave a really great talk on 'cheating' that I saw earlier this year.

    That being said, I think he has a point in his quick little blurb. But I also think it wouldn't fit into Apple's business plan to have all the apps cost something. They are not in the business of selling you apps - they want
  • As an Android user, one of the things that stop me just buying a $1 app is two-fold:
    1. Does it work on my device? It may be marked as such, but that is far from reality. Some apps are unstable, some use only a tiny corner of my tablet's display while using the entire screen as touchable surface (scaling issues) and some don't work with a specific part of my hardware (mostly games and audio).
    2. Does it work as advertised? Again; few apps seem to live up to their expectations. Having to spend $1 on ten apps b

  • I bought my first App off the Android Market when they were promoting there 10 Cent deal during the holidays. I thougtht to myself, now that I have put in my cc number and i'm only clicks away from buying another one, I just might. Then the next 10 Cent app I went to buy it told me to enter all my info in again so I declined to buy it. The point is, I think the 15 cent app idea would have worked for their business model.
  • I buy the coffee because the odds of me enjoying it are nearly 100% and the only damage that could come about is staining if I spill it on myself.

    With a $1 app there is a high chance it could be shit and therefore no better than throwing $1 out the window which, while a small sum, is still waste, it may steal my data, it may cause problems with my device and I do have to entrust my credit card with someone else. So there is a risk of further hassle and or time wasted. My time is worth a lot to me so the
  • So shouldn't we see this with all of the other app stores? As is often pointed out on slashdot, iPhones only make up a increasingly small portion of smartphones. The availability of competing app stores should be able to show that the author is correct. While customers of Apple's app store may expect their apps to be free, surely this isn't the expectation for customers of the Google and Amazon app stores...
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:40PM (#38519552)
    Users want a trial which is why I offer a free app, Perpenso Calc for iPhone [perpenso.com] RPN, 5 modes: Scientific Stats Business Hex Bill, which is upgradable to full (RPN, tape, etc) via in app purchase.

    Users may also want customization so I offer the more specialized functionality (statistics, business, hex, etc) as in app purchases. So rather than a higher priced app with everything included I can keep the price down and let users only pay for the specific functionality they want.
  • Well what do they do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Riceballsan (816702) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:42PM (#38519566)
    I think the biggest issue, is there are very few apps that do anything that isn't expected of free software in the PC world. 95% of the games are more or less repackaged flash games that we have been playing for years, most of the productivity apps are weaker than google docs or libre/open-office which we have had for ages, and most of what's left is basic generic things that have been free for years. Bottom line there just aren't many apps that aren't exact duplicates of programs that have been free on the PC for years, has nothing to do with apples management it is just the trend of the entire software market. Right now in software people will pay for on any platform

    Top of the line office software, IE only Microsoft Office

    Top of the line AAA games, IE Skyrim

    Other then that... corporate users need security software, and gullible home users will also buy it (reason I say gullible is primarily because there are few to no features or increased reliability of free vs paid antivirus's that I've seen). Had nothing to do with how the tablet market was set on launch day, the phones were based on the market of software, and in the end phones and tablets do not currently support much in the way of software that people aren't used to having for free.

  • When you buy a $4 coffee, and it doesn't turn out the way you expect, there is a real, living, breathing, human being standing in front of you that can fix it.

    When you buy a $500 tablet from Walmart and decide you don't like it, you can just go back to the store and return it, no questions asked.

    When you spend $1 on an app, and it either isn't what you expect, isn't what is advertised, or doesn't work on your device, the process of getting your money back is a significantly higher hurdle.

    On iTunes, you have

  • I'm never giving it.

    Also apps can do ongoing charges, like in that daily show expose on the fish tank.

    Finally I like to donate not pay, I get the feeling that more of the money makes it to the developer.
  • one of the benefits of having been a computer user for so long is that through my history, i've known a number of excellent free or low-cost software (shareware in many cases). so why should apple force prices to be artificially high? if i'm a developer and i want to give away my work, that shouldn't be limited by a corpratist's drive to earn money; as apple has proven, free apps are a nice choice alongside paid apps.

  • Had Apple created a really low minimum price for apps — say $0.15 — instead of offering free apps on day one, Ariely suggests, we would be anchored to the idea that apps should cost something.

    Normally I really enjoy a good behavioral economics essay but this is more of a mashup of hyperbole and sarcasm. The anguish about buying $.99 apps IS that we don't have a good understanding of what a "fair" price is, like he suggests. But more to the point, the reason we don't think we can judge the fairness of the price is that there is SO. MUCH. SHIT. in the app store (this goes for every app store out there.) A free app might be super great and we feel like we really struck gold when we downloaded it and fired it up. A $4.99 app might have been totally disappointing to the point where we either go after a refund (if it is available) or simply anguish over the wasted money on an app that is so poorly written as to be preferably NOT installed on our mobile device of choice. The same effect that makes us feel like we struck gold with that free app find works against our desire to get a paid app, we feel like we are really rolling the dice, and to most of us gambling is only attractive when its flashy and involves glossy cards or red dice.

  • by Mr EdgEy (983285) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:52PM (#38519678)

    You know, I used to think that if media had a decent price, that I would actually purchase more games.
    More and more lately I'm coming to realise that I wouldn't buy most things at any price.

    Why would I spend £10 on a DVD, when I can save that £10 towards a new car or a mortgage deposit?
    Why would I spend £10 on a book or £1 on a newspaper, when £90 (9 books) buys me an e-reader which will give me free books until the thing breaks?
    Why would I spend £anything on games, when I can simply play older ones?

    When I was a schoolchild, money existed to be frittered away on the next shiny.
    Now I'm (only a few years) older, I can see that in order to live any semblance of a decent life, I'm going to have to save, and save HARD.

    Why should I feel sorry for artists? Are they in a worse position than me? In the vast majority of cases I would doubt it.

    With regards to expensive coffee - I don't buy it, but I do buy coffee when I'm out, occasionally. Why? Because it is more convenient than making coffee at home, and I can get it instantly as opposed to waiting. Buying 'apps' generally works in reverse.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:09PM (#38519894)

    I've not found the same return policy on software.

  • by pbjones (315127) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:59PM (#38520456)

    I pay the author their due, for the work they put into the app. If I don't see any value in it, I don't get it, free or otherwise. Buying apps via Apple or Google or boxed software from a retailer is always a gamble, but you can read comments before buying, or work out if it is worth less than a cup of coffee.

  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @07:34PM (#38520786)

    90% of $1 apps are crap. So you have to spend $10 to get one good app.

    People are not agonizing over just $1; they're agonizing over having to spend $1 ten times and the time to download and evaluate ten apps to find a good one.

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