The Android Market might have a lot of shortcomings, especially when compared to Apple’s App Store. However, it has one big advantage – it allows users to return purchased apps for a full refund within 24 hours of the first purchase. Unfortunately, the recently rolled out overhaul of the Market will neuter this advantage by slashing the refund window to just 15 minutes.
Google claims that this will benefit developers, and that might indeed be true for some devs. However, it might also end up hurting several others.
For short games, comics, and (in general) apps with less content, the twenty four hours refund window led to lost sales as many users downloaded paid apps, utilized it to the fullest and then returned it. These are the apps that will benefit the most from the reduced refund window.
On the other hand, apps that regularly add new content through updates, and apps that can’t be exhausted within 24 hours (e.g. system tools, keyboard apps, media players etc.) stand to lose the most from the Market update. One of the benefits of Google’s previous refund policy was that it encouraged users to purchase and try new premium apps. I have purchased multiple apps from the Market. Some of them I liked and I kept them. While others didn’t live up to my expectations, and I simply refunded them. The twenty four hour refund window enabled me to judge an app before spending money on it. This allowed me to be more adventurous, which in turn led me to purchase a greater number of apps.
The new fifteen minutes refund period is simply too less to judge the quality of an app. Heck, on my EDGE connection, the download alone can take more than fifteen minutes to complete. The lack of availability of demo version for many apps, coupled with the truncated refund window is bad news for both users and developers. I can understand the reasons for reducing the refund period; however, anything less than 90 minutes is simply too little time for users to even get an abstract idea about an app.