The word ‘free’ is very enticing. Take a browse through the Windows Phone store or any other app store, and it’s the free apps that enjoy the largest number of download. But as well as being enticing, the word ‘free’ can also be a little misleading. An app or game may be available to download without charge, but if you then need to make in-app purchases to unlock core functionality, can it really be called free?
The European Union asked both Apple and Google to change the way some of the apps in their respective stores are labeled. Google has already said that starting at the end of September, games that feature in-app purchases will no longer be able to be marketed as free. Guidelines will also be introduced that prevent the targeting of children with in-app purchases.
Apple has been criticized for failing to come up with a similar plan for its own App Store. The company has responded by referring to its parental control system that enables concerned parents to place limits on what their children are able to do. The fact that children are potential able to build up large bills through in-app purchases is just one of the reasons they prove unpopular.
Of course it is not just children who can be misled by labeling — it is very easy to be lured into downloading a particular title only find out that it is not quite as fully featured as you first thought.
So what do you think? Should free mean completely free? Do you think Microsoft needs to make any changes to the Windows store or the Windows Phone Store?