This is why Apple forces the in-app purchase option
Apple got a lot of heat when it first started forcing apps to offer an in-app purchase option to buy content, or alternatively not mention any outside sources to get content at all. Many people said it was to get the 30% share of the revenue that the in-app purchasing system sends to Apple, and some app developers – like Amazon – refused to cooperate, instead removing links to its store and releasing an HTML5 app instead.
When you spend a little time on an Android tablet though, the force in-app purchasing system suddenly becomes something you miss from iOS. While a similar system exists on Android, Google would never force anything like that on the developers…so they don’t use it very often. The result is quite obvious, and quite annoying for the customer: a new day, a new app, a new checkout system that wants you to enter everything from your credit card information to what your dog had for breakfast 27 days ago. I hate it.
The example above is Dark House Conics’ app on iOS and Android. On Android, going to buy a comic opens the browser, which brings you to the company’s website. There you have to checkout using one of those dreadful forms I just made fun of, which is simply too much hassle to buy a comic in my humble opinion. I don’t think Dark Horse is going to steal my credit card information, but it’s just the whole system of having to sit there and tap in personal information into a 7-inch device in order to buy a freaking comic book that makes me uninstall the app and simply go do something besides reading comics.
On iOS, it’s different. Dark Horse ended up on the “obey Apple” side of the whole in-app purchasing war, and is offering that in the iOS app. You still need a Dark Horse account, I assume in order to sync between devices, but this time it basically asks you for an email and password. The entire checkout process is handled by Apple, so entering your iTunes password right in the app is all you have to do. No websites. No address, zip codes, credit card numbers, expiration dates. You buy comics like you buy apps, and it’s done in a second.
I can understand the frustration that publishers and developers feel of having to hand Apple 30% of the revenue from providing a simple checkout system, but frankly, get over it. I ended up not buying any comics at all this evening as I wanted them on my Android tablet and got so pissed off at being presented that checkout form that I simply didn’t bother. I could easily have used my iPad, either to read or just to buy the comics, but it became a matter of principle that I don’t give money to someone who, judging by the hassle of giving it to them, don’t want my money. $5 * 70% = $3.50. $0 * 100% = $0. Do the math. There’s a reason why services that are offered on iOS often see skyrocketing sale, and that’s availability to customers.
So, my advice to Android developers and publishers that have Android apps with internal content distribution requirements is to seriously look at how the checkout process is handled. PayPal is a great alternative to a simple checkout system that is independent on the platform, as long as it’s used correctly. And by “used correctly”, I mean that you let people checkout with PayPal and then use the information that PayPal provides you. Do not ask the person to create a separate account with you, that defeats the purpose.