in app billing

In-app billing is a bit of a touchy subject.  Nobody begrudges developers that try to make a few dollars, but billing for extra content as a per-app basis just isn't very popular among users.  Some don't like the fact that purchases are tied to a particular phone, and we can certainly understand that.  Wiping your phone or buying a new one and losing all your game content is no fun.  For others, the only acceptable way to monetize applications is to charge a flat fee up front.  We won't even comment on paid applications that offer in-app purchases as well, but they're out there.

On the good side, it's a way to offer a basic application for free, which everyone likes to see.  On the bad side, it can get expensive in addition to the above.  Tonight we're asking you guys.  Vote in the poll and let us know!



Reader comments

Late night poll: Do you make in-app purchases?


Installing an app that does in-app purchases is like making a hole in your pocket -- you'll start losing small change without noticing. I don't mind paying upfront for an app I like, but I don't like having continuous expenses for an app I already installed. If I can't use it without in-app purchases, then it goes straight in the trash.

I agree and tap tap 4 sucked it was horrible no update and apperintly no screen Res changes from ios. It was horrible but I have made in app purchases tap tap 4 better key board (remember that app?) And maby 2 more but I look back and say screw that I learned my lesson

Since the Android Market has no built-in support for subscription-based billing, and apps can't trigger billing without user approval, how are you "losing small change without noticing"?

when you're playing something like ant smasher that require you to constantly yap the screen, then an inapp purchase randomly pops up is an entraoment to accidentally buy somethign. only time I ever m ade an inaoo putvhase

In-app purchases are a multi-step process. Is your bearded dragon playing Ant Smasher without you knowing?

In-app purchases and carrier-billing are the main reasons the Android Market sees money from me.

Its called Convenience.

Exactly one area where you don't want convenience, similar to the sweet treats in one's fridge or the all too friendly waitress offering you another drink before you even put the empty glass down.

Nope, if I pay for an app, it's done through Android Market, not through in-app. It ensures that my payment detail is actually going through a trusted source, in which case it's Android Market than say a phishing scam that imitates the Android Market interface within an app.

In-app billing *is* done through the Android Market. Apps have no access to billing information, only the market does, which you already entered if you've purchased before.

Can you seriously not share in-app purchases between devices? I would have thought that you'd be able to use them on any device which you are currently using your Google Account on. i.e. buy on a phone, use on a tablet. If you can't, that's insane and would pretty much turn me off in-app purchases entirely.

Well its in the Google market so I'm assuming it would back it up but if not contact the developer and explain you want it on a tablet but already paid for it with an in app purchase but yes if it don't carry over I would be mad now if your into rooting titanium back up seems good just save it to that SD card and put it into your tablet and port it make sure you hit restore app plus data ;) I love work arounds ;)

this is why i don't do in-app purchases and don't foresee myself doing so in the near future. i'd rather buy another app from the market so i know that i can install it across all my devices.

from what i've read the ability to share the in-app purchases between devices might be supported, just up to the developer to implement properly. all the stuff i've read doesn't paint a very consistent picture, though.

It's up to the developer as to whether or not in-app purchases carry over to new installations/devices.

I think it depends on what you're buying.
For example, I've used the Comixolgy app to purchase many comic books. They are ALL available on both my phone and my tablet. The only wrinkle is that whichever device purchased it automatically downloads it, but the other doesn't. So if I purchase it on my phone it auto-downloads. I pull up the comixology app on my tablet and it shows the book as purchased, but not downloaded yet. A very minor snag, as it downloads quickly over wifi to the tablet.

I used to be completely against the idea of in-app purchases, but two games have gotten me to fork over some cash: Dragonvale on iOS and Little Empire on Android. Little Empire is like crack.

I like to know what investment I'm getting myself into *BEFORE* I have installed and invested my TIME into an app/game.

Therefore, if there are in-app purchases, I want them to be CLEARLY outlined in the app description ahead of time, with exactly how much it's going to be.

A few apps do that - most do not. Most use the in-app purchase as a way of HIDING the true cost of an app, hoping to spring it upon the user once they've already installed your app. I see that as fraudulent, in my eyes.

To the few devs who are UP FRONT about the cost of in-app purchases, great. But most of them are not - they use it as a bait and switch.

I voted no. However, I make an exception once in a blue moon. Tonight was one of those times. I purchased Touch CWR from within ROM Manager. But, as far as silly

I absolutely do not pay for in app purchases. I will only pay for apps from the get go &, if then you've paid for the app then there shouldn't be anymore payments to be made. If i get an app that requires in app purchased i immediately uninstall. Now for games in particular it's the worst. If a game requires you to pay to advance or to be able to keep playing I automatically give a low rating. You should be able to either pay for the game out right or it be free. The only way i could see that in app purchases would work is only for a game that allows you to customize a character or the way a car looks for example. Not to give someone who has the cash to make their character or car better bc they have money, but for style or customization only.

First, if the content is tied to a specific handset, the payment method becomes irrelevant because I'll never spend money on it.

That being said, I think you're asking the wrong question(s). Everything purchased from the Amazon Appstore is an in-app purchase, but almost nobody will read your poll that way. If ClockworkMod creates an app store for root-required software, and you're able to purchase those apps from your phone, that's also an in-app purchase, but I don't have any problem with either of those models because the Amazon Appstore isn't tied to one handset and the ClockworkMod Rootstore isn't likely to be.

A streaming video service that charges you for each video you view would be an in-app purchase. So would a music service that sells you songs. There are some potentially legitimate reasons for reasons for disliking those things (security, etc), but that's very different from a game that sells extended content... or is it?

I bought the touch cwr also, even though I had already downloaded a copy from the site. It was a handy way to throw the dev some money to encourage him to keep being awesome.

I make far more in-app purchases for the iOS platform than I ever do for Android apps. It just seems like it isn't a frequently provided option for Android, even on a great number of cross-platform applications.

And yes, I understand that use of iOS is meant to be for the consumption of dollar bills. *DUH*

I have nothing against it really. I have never done it. If the purchase is tied to the Google account i would do it. If the purchase is tied to the device i never would.

No. They remind me of the days of feature phones, when you had to "subscribe" to games instead of buying them. I wouldn't do it then, and I won't do it now. There are plenty of fantastic apps for $5 or less that require no additional purchases. I'd rather pay that up front that get nickel-and-dimed forever.

As a general rule of thumb is don't buy in app purchases. I have on the few occasions when a free app is used as a demo for the full version. I don't like micro transactions. Tell me how much the app cost and let me buy it. Don't nickel and dime me.

Assuming all in-app purchases don't carry over to different devices is incorrect. In-app purchases can be "managed" or "unmanaged", and is controlled by the app developer. One of my apps has an in-app purchase to extend the functionality of the app, and it's a one-time purchase. When the user re-installs (on *any* device) through the market, the add-on is also installed. See the "purchase type" section of "Administering In-app Billing" here:

I absolutely NOT like the idea of in app micro payments...

But I would really love a "starter version" of any kind of app, that I first can try and then continue to use, after a very easy ONE TIME in app buy or ONE YEAR in app rent!

And a "starter version" of a productive app, should naturally work in every way and only be time limited... While some games can offer the first three tracks, without any other limits...

Then can it also be a free ad option, that maybe get slightly limited functionality and some apps can even offer all three alternatives, when its time to continue...

The main advantages with this "starter version" system is that you can really try the real thing, you can also try some alternative apps that might be even better and if you really like the program, would you finally gladly pay clearly more too, often twice as much as you would pay for a program you can't try first... But the one year rent option, should naturally be clearly cheaper and anyhow be great for app creators that really believe in the apps long time value!

Which naturally would be a HUGE benefit for the creators of fine programs and dramatically encourage finer programs... And it would also be very good for parents, that not have to worry about excessive in apps micro payments!

*** If YOU like this system and know anyone that have some influence over Google Market and so on, talk with them about this possibility!!

People freaking out about in-app micro payments need to step aside and stop blathering on. In-app payments are a great, clean way to offer multiple versions of an app on the marketplace while centering your presence in one location. Nothing irritates me more than having to download apps that have "paid" or "pro" or "premium" and whatnot in the name. I'd rather download the free app, put my two dollars through in the in-app payment window, and unlock premium features that way. It keeps the app store tidier and it should be easier for the developer too. I don't know why more people don't do this. Probably because of all the whiners misdirecting the discussion towards Zynga's BS tactics and other irrelevant FUD.

I’m generally against in-app purchases with games because so many of them make it nearly impossible to progress through the game without those in-app purchases. It’s the drug dealer model. Give them a little bit for free, then make them pay once they’re hooked. And we all know it’s going to be a string of purchases. I’m going to get to another point in the game where I can’t do anything until I purchase XYZ. And then there will be another point like that, and another, and another. Ads are fine. Bugging me between levels to purchase the full version is fine. Demos that give you a taste and then point you to the paid version are fine. But this drug dealer model seems parasitic.
Having said that, however, I’m fine with things like the comixology app, where the whole point is in-app purchases (comic books)

While I have purchased several apps using in-app billing, I have found that it is often unreliable when a reinstallation is required; for that reason, I prefer purchasing an unlock key app or the full unlocked app from the Market if either alternative is available.