If there is one thing that is missing from the AppStore, it’s a “Gift This App” button. Don’t get me wrong. Depsite a few hiccups early on, overall we’re quite happy with the whole AppStore experience. It’s just that we’d love a way to buy promo copies of our software for people. And then there are reviewers. We know about Ad Hoc, but splitting 100 Ad Hoc licenses between in-house devices, beta testers, and reviewers just isn’t enough. We’ll pay full price for our software – we just want it to be free for the other person.
As I mentioned, this is a problem for promotions. It’s an even bigger problem for reviewers, though. Read on after the jump to see why…
Review Copies vs Bribes
There has always been this fine line a company has to walk when providing promotional copies of a product for review purposes. You don’t want the public to feel like you’re paying off a reviewer for checking out your product. The problem is that asking a reviewer (most of whom are hobbyists these days) to cough up the dough to buy every app they review isn’t realistic. Even $.99 apps get expensive when you buy enough of them. They can’t do it, and reviews are an important part of how customers choose products.
Although people have always been slightly uncomfortable with this system, in the end the public appreciates the reviews so they accept the system we’ve come up with. A reviewer contacts us with a request to review the application, and we provide them with a copy.
The Broken System
Unfortunately, Apple’s AppStore broke this review system. There really isn’t a way to easily get iPhone products out to a reviewer. Ad Hoc is an option, but as I mentioned above, you are limited in the number of licenses you can distribute (and it’s pretty clunky). The licenses you do get have to cover all your in-house devices (including QA devices), all your beta testers, and every reviewer we want to look at the application (plus my Mom ).
The only solution we’ve come up with so far is to reimburse reviewers with iTunes credit. We really don’t like this. Giving someone a copy of your product is one thing, but handing a reviewer money just makes us uncomfortable. What is more, you can’t give less than $9.99. So, what happens when we want to give someone a $4.99 app, or a $.99 app? Do we give them $9.99? Do we paypal them the money? We haven’t had to deal with this yet, but we will in the future.
The Simple Solution: Gift This App
The good news is that a solution already exists! In the other iTunes stores you can select “Gift This Music” or “Gift This TV Show”. The bad news is that it isn’t turned on for Applications!
So, Apple! If you’re listening, please turn on Gift This App! We want to buy even more software and give you even more money! At the same time, you’ll be helping us solve one of the few problems we have with the AppStore.