Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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I stole something today and don't feel remorse.

Published: 05 Jul 2011

Today I stole something. I fired up a torrent client and grabbed a cracked copy of Reeder. This is after searching for a trial. I wasn’ tsure if I really wanted it. I’m not going to spend $10 to discover I just like Google Reader better. Google Reader is very good. Something has changed. A few years ago it was standard to have a Try For 7-14 Day version. Not having that would have been suicide, I think. Now it seems nothing I want has a trial (except for products from older software foundries).

What we have now is this ridiculous “SomeApp” and “SomeApp Free” pairing. Usually the “Free” has some annoying limitation that prompts you to pay. Or a free version just doesn’t exist and there is no trial. Like Reeder. Now I’m using Reeder illegally because there was no trial. If I stick with it after a week I’ll buy it. Promise. If not, I’ll delete it. Seems fair to me.

This entire idea of a Free vs Paid version is wrong now. Free (other than games) should be a time-locked full version. Anything else is inadequate.

This pairing strategy clutters the app indexes. Each version gets different reviews (people rating a free app have less invested). This devalues ratings and reviews can’t be trusted. It’s damaging the app store.

I trust app store reviews less if there is a free version. It even works the other way. When people buy the full version they see perceived value (at least enough to warrant the cost). If the app doesn’t live up to expectations (which is very possible) it is rated it even more negatively because of promises made from a free version. Someone inexperienced with the free app will have a different interpretation.

If the App Stores support DRM, which I expect they all do, this is an easy problem to solve. Let any app run for some period of time, set by the publisher, without paying. Then you must pay. This would work. Reviews would be more valuable as people are getting exactly what they will pay for.

It annoys me that the current state of applications is going backwards. Being deprived of being able to physically interact with something you are going to buy is just bad. I never defended piracy and always called copyright infringement theft, but if this is the way things are going I’ll be stealing a lot more. I don’t want to steal. I just want to make wise purchases.

I’d also like to whine about Reeder having separate iPad and iPhone apps, which I assume is purely because they want to sell two copies. It’s greedy and bad form if that’s the reason, but all that is a separate write-up.