Although it’s had a successful launch, the Nintendo 3DS has one hurdle that could be slowing its growth: until you’ve actually seen one, you don’t appreciate how cool it is.
They can’t even show you a picture or a video of it, because for the 3D effect to work, you need to be looking at the device itself.
It’s an overused advertising slogan, but with the Nintendo 3DS you really do have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.
Whatever you’re selling, people prefer to try before they buy. It’s why they test drive cars and why I take a favourite CD with me whenever I buy a new hi-fi. These are all big ticket items, but gamers are equally cautious about spending a few pounds (or even pence) on an app.
It can be hard to sell an app unless someone’s already played with it.
Lite versions of apps provide a risk-free way for people to get a taster, but they have their drawbacks:
* How much do you give away? Give away too little and people won’t be engaged enough to want to continue using the app. Give away too much, and people might not need to buy the upgrade.
* Is a lite version even possible? If you have a calculator app, for example, you can’t just disable some of the numbers.
* Do you want to maintain different versions of the app? Even though it’s based on the paid app, a lite version will require time to be spent on coding, store management, and promotion.
* Does the lite version downsell people who might have bought the paid version? If I go looking for an app and find I can choose a free version or a paid version, I’ll probably give the free one a whirl first.
* Can you handle the support burden? Not everyone who downloads a free app is a potential paying customer, so you risk spending all your time supporting people who are never going to give you any money anyway.
* Can you persuade people to upgrade? Getting people to download once is hard enough. Getting them to download twice and leap a payment hurdle from outside the store environment will require them to be extremely engaged with the app.
Intel is pioneering an alternative approach, which is to give customers a 24-hour free trial of any app they buy from its AppUp store. It means developers can charge a fair price, and customers can try any app they like the look of risk-free.
If the app doesn’t click with them, they can claim their refund. If it does, they don’t need to do anything to keep the app. The app’s price is charged to their credit card automatically.
Of course, you’re still at liberty to give away your app, sell upgrades from within it or use advertising-supported models. But the free trial built in to the store creates a new dynamic: developers have to deliver quality apps with a shelf life longer than a day to get any money at all.
Customers have to show they’re willing to buy software before they can download it to try it. That’s bound to create better relationships between customers and developers.
If you want to find out more about Intel’s app store, join the Intel AppUp developer program while it’s still free for a limited period. If you have any comments on this charging model, feel free to leave them below.