Sep 10, 2009
Recently the Dev of the AWESOME app "Useful Switchers" made a change to his free app.If you update the app now through the marketplace, it will turn it in to a "trial version" which will expire Sept 14 2009. You will then have to get it for $0.99. Note that it won't be a better version, or a pro version, it will be the same thing. Here is what the Dev (turmeric on these forums I believe) says in the updated description in the marketplace:"Now I develop new version 2.0. If you donate, big thanks for support. I really need some money. I especially make smaller price ($0.99). This version is trial now (expired Sep 14 2009)."As you might imagine the reaction in the comments has been very harsh, and a lot of people are reducing their rating for the app.Before anyone attacks me (or others) with suggestions that we are freeloaders, pirates, or mean for trying to stop the Dev from profiting from his hard work, let me be clear; I _completely_ support any Dev's right to make money from their app. If it is valuable to me, I am even more than willing to pay for it. We aren't talking about a lot of money, it's only 99 cents, and useful switchers is a great app (I use it all the time, every day).
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Most people in the MP comments are upset not that the Dev wants to make money, but that it seems like a tricky, underhanded way to do it. The app they have used will suddenly expire after an update. It seems almost like a bait and switch. Yes, the Dev does explain in the app description what will happen when you update, so users who updated without reading it really only have themselves to blame (Caveat Emptor after all). The Dev maybe could have gone about this better, perhaps making it clearer (large words in bold) that the app would change to trial software after the update, and maybe he could have extended the trial period (it ends VERY shortly), but still, it's there to read.
My_ problem with the Dev's actions are really more a problem with the Marketplace in general, and how Google and phone carriers are handling it. You see, I'm in Canada, and apparently in Canada we can't be trusted with our own money, so we can't have access to paid apps (yes, that's me being snarky). Many other countries are in the same boat.So, turmeric, I'm talking to you now (and all other Devs who might read this); Your app is great, and I would GLADLY pay for it... but I can't. Once it becomes a paid app I will not even be able to see it in the marketplace. Even if I were to send you a donation now, if I update the app it will stop working on Sept 14 and I will be screwed.
Some will argue that it's still the Dev's right to change it to a paid app, and boo hoo so sorry, too bad for me. Well, i agree 100%. I agree the dev has the right, but there is something else to consider... customer service and his reputation as a dev.There are LOTS of users who, if they update, will lose the app on Sept 14, and not be able to get the paid version because they can't access paid apps. These people are lost potential customers for _future_apps when they can eventually access paid apps. You will turn they away.So, what are the alternatives? Do what many other Devs have done. Make a free version and a paid "pro" version so those without access to paid apps can still get a very useful app. Or, if you don't like that, and insist on making the app a paid app only, surely there must be a way (as with software for computers) to use an unlock key to get the full version? that way users could download a free "locked" version from the store, and pay the dev separately through his web site for a key that could be typed manually into the app to unlock it.