It seems that during the Android Market session at I/O 2011, Google talked about a lot of cool improvements that the Market has needed for a while now. Some of the highlights are support for larger applications (up to 4GB), the ability to sell apps in more countries and a new ranking to promote new and popular apps. All those additions are commendable and necessary but there is one thing that we have heard quite a few of you complain about that Google is NOT budging on and we want to know what you think.
Back when the Android Market first started allowing developers to charge for their apps in 2009, when user purchased an application they had a full 24 hours to evaluate it and if they didn’t like it they could get a full refund. At the time this was seen as a huge differentiator between Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market but nothing good last forever right. Last December though Google made a change, they reduced the 24 hour refund window down to…15 minutes. WTF? Yeah we know and thought the same thing. At the time they didn’t give a whole lot of an explanation, but it seems like now they are more than happy to share the information that lead them to making the change and why they won’t change it back.
During the I/O conference Google was asked if they had plans to increase the 15 minute window or allow developers to specify a custom window. The answer was an unqualified “No”. When pressed they went on to share these highlights:
- Google wants the purchasing experience to be uniform for all apps, therefore all apps need to have the same refund window.
- The 24 hour window was reduced at the request of developers, specifically developers of short applications like comic books. Publishers complained that users could buy a comic book, read it, and then refund it all within the 24 hour window. Having a 15 minute window fixes that.
- The 15 minute window starts after the application has finished downloading the app. If the programmer is using the new managed resource downloads (part of the 4GB app limit change that will be rolled out in June) then the 15 minute window will start after the app and all of its resources have been downloaded.
- When asked if the 15 minute window was negotiable or subject to being reconsidered, the answer was “No”.
I love a lot of what Google does, but I just think they are wrong on this. They make some good points about certain types of apps suffering from some such a small refund window like the comic books they mentioned. As fast as a company will try to do something nice for its users people will find a way to game the system. For my money, I say that they can keep with their uniform purchasing experience but they need to do it by class or category. Applications need to be categorized in some way that allows them to say that this app requires more time than this one to evaluate. By doing this, they can keep a uniform experience across the same types of apps while not forcing people make a bad decision on an app and then regretting it. The folks out there that say Android users should be happy they even have a “refund window” have a flawed argument. This whole 24 hour refund thing was a huge selling point by Google when it first came out and now they are changing that whole thing up.
What makes it worse is that they say us users actually prefer the 15 minute refund window. That is where we have to call bull$#!. In doing a little informal survey, the 15 minute window is almost universally hated. But that isn’t enough and we wanted to ask you what you thought of the 15 minute window. Vote in our survey and leave your thoughts in the comments. Is this fair or foul?