View Full Version : No trial version? Crying shame...


slitchfield
06-05-2005, 08:00 AM
It's the difference between disappointment and success. It's the difference between getting your application on 1000 and 100,000 smartphones. It's the difference between getting almost no coverage in the press and getting plenty. And the difference can be bridged with only a little effort.

I'm talking about releasing an application or game with no trial version, of course. Why do some companies persist in forcing users to make a $20 buying decision based on a single screenshot and a (highly biased) description of the game written by the developer? As a reviewer of Symbian OS software for Palmtop User, PDA Essentials and AllAboutSymbian, I know that an application has to be pretty special for me to want to go to the hassle of contacting the company and arranging download of the full version for review. Most of the time I note the absence of something to download and move on immediately, thinking “If they can't be bothered to put in a few lines of code to make this work in a trial mode, then I can't be bothered to make the effort to get hold of their program either.” There are plenty of other programs to review that do have trial versions, so it's their loss. No publicity, way fewer sales.

From your point of view, as an AAS user, unless you have lots of disposable income you're going to wait for reviews before handing over your hard earned money. And the review won't come because the reviewer is in the same position as you. So you'll never know whether the app is any good and the developer waits in vain for sales which never come.

Am I exagerating the situation? Maybe slightly – there are a few programs with nominal purchase price (e.g. $5), small enough that most people will take the risk of purchase. And, for really special applications (TaskSheet for Series 60 being an example of this from today's app release list), reviewers like me are usually happy to bite the bullet and make a little effort to get hold of something to play with.

But, as a part-time programmer myself, I know that it's the work of an hour or two at most to put in code for a simple trial/full mode switch, activated by an unlock code. At the end of the day, developers are simply being lazy. To spend 1000 man hours on a super-slick game and then restrict potential sales to only 5% of what they could be for the lack of a few extra hours programming seems a criminal waste, from everybody's point of view.

Steve Litchfield
http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk/

Masamune
06-05-2005, 12:23 PM
I can understand why - AAS forums get bombarded with people asking for cracks and warez for trial versions. I use one piece of "modified" software on my phone and that's to make it compatible with my handset. However, I also valued the amount of hard work the developer put into it and thus paid for a full version I was unable to use.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of users out there determined to get "something for nothing" and spend hours crawling over the net and trying various shifty sites (one site I came across had no less than 5 different viruses attatched to a file).

So for the sake of saving a fiver, people are prepared to jepordise future development and put their desktop at risk. However, if the only way developers can prevent people taking advantage of trialware is by axing it, then it will be a real loss for everyone.

MisterX
06-05-2005, 01:38 PM
another good point of view a part the cracking side is why java game either with one screenshot people buy it a lot and this business model works perfectly with operators so I don't understand why developer have to risk their work to be cracked when all the other worlds like operators show not the screenshot of the game that they are buying on that device but the one that is showed on S60 either if it is not a S60 phones , so I think that customers have esasperate the developers when they copy it , before was much better , and in future th developer will release less apps like in these days there is not too much apps coming out compared to last year ... people think over it ...

aquawell
06-05-2005, 08:31 PM
Software piracy nowadays so huge, what its about 20% legal to 80% pirated.
All our products has trial version, but in future products, to start trial period user will be forced to connect over Internet to license server.

SwitchBlade
06-05-2005, 08:32 PM
The fundamental problem is as always the Windoze PC. With the death of proper home computers (Atari/Amiga/etc) the ideals of Public Domain software has dissappeared, leading to the drying up of Shareware and Freeware applications. The idea of paying for a small and relatively simple app without a chance to try it is evil to me. The old fashioned method of releasing an app, and asking for some cash or a beermat/postcard/etc when registering is still in my mind a good one. Offering extra features or guarenteed updates for those that register is a way of encouraging users to give you money, but the whole time this base actually relies on making a good application that people will want to register and asking a sensible sum of money £5-£10 for it. People seem to care too much about making large amounts of money from their applications, which makes me more determined to go out of my way to people that offer freeware/shareware applications in the proper spirit of things as they IMHO deserve my support more.

Masamune
06-05-2005, 11:14 PM
Seconded. I don't mind paying upfront to try an app if its say under a fiver, but I certainly wouldn't for a £20.00 program, especially given the slightly fickle nature of my Sendo X compatibility

slitchfield
07-05-2005, 01:49 PM
Seconded. I don't mind paying upfront to try an app if its say under a fiver, but I certainly wouldn't for a £20.00 program, especially given the slightly fickle nature of my Sendo X compatibility

The X's problem (I have one, too) is that it uses Series 60 v1 and Symbian OS 6, while many developers (rather lazily) only compile their apps for the very latest platform versions. 8-( (e.g. TomTom, Quickoffice)

Steve

Juanm
11-05-2005, 08:58 AM
The problem is not only putting a switch between trial and full release.
That switch should be secure enough to avoid at least that everyone could unlock it with trivial tricks (that's to say ... not only few lines of code in a single file, but at least many checks in many files. And low prices to discourage people from cracking).

No protection is unbreakable if people want to break it, but removing the opportunity to try programs lead to what's described in the first post (few reviews, few ratings, few sellings).

Maybe, forcing users to download the trial file after a registration to the developer site could be an useful workaround to avoid the death of trialware on symbian platform.

Masamune
13-05-2005, 12:26 PM
Conversely, things could the other way. There are a couple of apps (Chinese Chess for Series 60 as an example) that insist you pay for a trial version! This is something of a stupid idea - the point of trialware is for you to give it a go:

1) To make sure it works on your phone.
2) To see if you like it.

Some programs allow the option of continuing the trial version for a small price (eg a 30-day extension for £1.50) which isn't a bad idea for the indecisive but I usually make-up my mind about an app within a couple of days, tops.

As for the sending your details to a developer before trying your software, that could work but many people would be unhappy with leaving key details lying around on some home developer's server.

PisLoc's solution is extreme. After registering your software and getting the key, you must send either a premium rate text message or go through an expensive GPRS session to send your details+registration code to a seperate company(!) to prevent duplicates being used. If the software won't send out the message or dial up a connection (as it didn't in the case of Screen Capture for my X), then the program won't register and won't run...

Essentially this is all a question of trust - the developers must trust the users to register, and the users must have a quick and easy way to register their software.


Oh -and don't even mention QuickOffice.... :rolleyes:

slitchfield
13-05-2005, 01:11 PM
Essentially this is all a question of trust - the developers must trust the users to register, and the users must have a quick and easy way to register their software.

Oh -and don't even mention QuickOffice.... :rolleyes:

Quickoffice. Oh, there, I've done it now!

As a journalist, I take great pains to find and praise software which *doesn't* make the user jump through hoops to prove he's legit. I'm all for registration codes (and even the odd activation SMS - it's only 10p or so, after all), but some software requires up to three separate codes in order to work. (Product code, Device-generated ID code, Registration code)

Then, when you upgrade your smartphone or repair a broken one, you have to do it all over again... 8-(

Steve

SwitchBlade
13-05-2005, 01:24 PM
The easiest option is to remove any registered version code from the trial version and when people buy the full version give them a new version of the program and also supply a code to enable it. Repeat supply of check codes is another method that could be used to keep the registered version running, every few months send out a re-reg code that the user needs to enter to keep the application running, which via the application site can be linked to an algorithm using the first install date/time as a calculation point meaning that any pirated copy would need to be installed at the same time as the application being sent the legit code.

Masamune
13-05-2005, 02:28 PM
A solution - Servers are often the most secure place to store software. Why not distribute a purely trimmed down version i.e. not a full version with locked out sections. When the user buys a copy off the server, the server sends an email with the full version of the software tied to the phone's IMEI, together with an unlock code for that IMEI. This is the way SkyForce is copy protected, and its firendly enough to register. Has anyone come across a more friendly system or one they would like to see in more programs?