If there is one rule for getting people to pay for something, it’s to make the process as simple as possible. The fewer steps people have to take, and the less they have to think, the easier it is to sell them something. Android took the first steps towards ease of payments when it introduced carrier billing to the Android Market.
You don’t have to enter your credit card or any other form of payment. The cost just shows up on your cell bill, which, if you’re like most people, you just pay without examining anyway. Now they’ve implemented another way to separate users from their money: in-app billing.
This is, of course, a great feature for developers. It allows them to do more with their apps. Game developers can now sell bonus packs right inside their app. My favorite, and an example used by Google, is ComiXology.
If you want something to browse you can just download a new issue through the app itself. If you store your credit card information, it makes it that much easier to encourage buying. There are also other uses for the app, such as providing premium upgrades for free apps. You can take that one step further and set up limited trials, after which users have to purchase the app — through the app itself.
This new feature will likely benefit developers more than users. Yes, it makes a user’s life easier, because there are fewer steps in order to purchase content. But it’s really just another way to spend money. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but consumers are usually better off when there are roadblocks to purchasing. That means more time for thoughts and second-guessing, which can reduce instances of buyer’s remorse.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the potential in-app billing has for the Android Market as a whole. After all, developers need to sell in order to continue creating apps. But let’s not pretend like this is some boon to users.