Re: [android-developers] One day sale made my paid app free, now I cannot revert!

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Mark Murphy

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Sep 7, 2010, 8:58:54 PM9/7/10
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On Mon, Sep 6, 2010 at 12:12 AM, coneybeare <coney...@gmail.com> wrote:
> My app had a one-day sale on all platforms and app stores.  The price
> went from 2.99 to free for just today, but now that the sale is over,
> I need to revert the price back to 2.99.  The bad news is, the
> developer console will not let me change it!  I have to pull the app
> until I can get this resolved.  What can I do?

Nothing -- once free, always free. You can publish a new app, in a new
package, that has a price.

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Mark Murphy (a Commons Guy)
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Maps.Huge.Info (Maps API Guru)

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Sep 7, 2010, 10:29:54 PM9/7/10
to Android Developers
This could be clearer:

"3.3 You may also choose to distribute Products for free. If the
Product is free, you will not be charged a Transaction Fee. You may
not collect future charges from users for copies of the Products that
those users were initially allowed to download for free. This is not
intended to prevent distribution of free trial versions of the Product
with an "upsell" option to obtain the full version of the Product:
Such free trials for Products are encouraged. However, if you want to
collect fees after the free trial expires, you must collect all fees
for the full version of the Product through the Payment Processor on
the Market. In this Agreement, "free" means there are no charges or
fees of any kind for use of the Product. All fees received by
Developers for Products distributed via the Market must be processed
by the Market's Payment Processor."

Perhaps it should be re-written to state that if a product is
distributed for free at any time, it will stay free and can't be
altered.

Too bad for you. I hope you didn't have many users. Changing the app
package is pretty much your only choice now.

-John Coryat

TreKing

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Sep 7, 2010, 10:59:39 PM9/7/10
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On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:12 PM, coneybeare <coney...@gmail.com> wrote:
What can I do?

Post your problem / question once. Posting the same issue twice is not going to help it get back to paid.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TreKing - Chicago transit tracking app for Android-powered devices

Nik Bhattacharya

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Sep 8, 2010, 10:41:15 AM9/8/10
to Android Developers
I got bitten by this on my app. I changed from paid to free, and
couldn't revert. I had to pull the app from the market unfortunately
and repackage and re-list. Not very intuitive from the developer
console (there should atleast be a warning that the developers get
when going from paid to free). Yes, one could point to the legal
wording, but c'mon, we are developers and not lawyers and a little
warning dialog would really help. Changing the packaging and
unlisting the app is really disruptive for both users and developers.

On Sep 7, 9:59 pm, TreKing <treking...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:12 PM, coneybeare <coneybe...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > What can I do?
>
> Post your problem / question once. Posting the same issue twice is not going
> to help it get back to paid.
>
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------
> TreKing <http://sites.google.com/site/rezmobileapps/treking> - Chicago

Kevin Duffey

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Sep 8, 2010, 11:13:39 AM9/8/10
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It's one of those things that wasn't well thought out.. I fail to understand why you can't go back to paid.. it's all automatic, no human intervention. Is there any explanation as to why Google chose this path? Like others said, it is disruptive and probably loses a lot of users for the developer when this happens, especially when the version of the app that went to free has bugs, or new features are needing to be added.. now the user has to download a new app.. worse..they have to know that they need to do this. Mass email by developer to those that downloaded originals?


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TreKing

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Sep 8, 2010, 12:14:59 PM9/8/10
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On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:41 AM, Nik Bhattacharya <nik.bhat...@frogdesign.com> wrote:
Not very intuitive from the developer console (there should atleast be a warning that the developers get
when going from paid to free).

There's a lot that website *should* do, if we run under the assumption that the people behind it are capable of building a website and employing common sense.

On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 10:13 AM, Kevin Duffey <andj...@gmail.com> wrote:
I fail to understand why you can't go back to paid.. it's all automatic, no human intervention. Is there any explanation as to why Google chose this path?

My assumption: when you update a paid app, the Market verifies you actually paid for it. If you downloaded an app for free, then it changed to paid, this would fail and users would have to pay for previously free app, which is a no-no according to the terms.
 
Mass email by developer to those that downloaded originals?

Is that even possible?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TreKing - Chicago transit tracking app for Android-powered devices

Kevin Duffey

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Sep 8, 2010, 12:21:56 PM9/8/10
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@Tre,

Yah, I don't know if it's possible to do a mass email to all your downloaders.. that would be nice, but I would guess that google/market protect end users from that potential for various reasons.

As for downloading an app that is free, then it changed to paid.. I would hope that the free app they have has a version tied to it.. and when changed to paid, a newer version is applied.. and given how much storage google already has I can't imagine they cant keep a simple "history" of the various app changes. Maybe they don't, but it wouldn't be difficult to put together a table that can store app history info... thus use it for the market to determine if a user already downloaded the app for free and from then on gets free updates.

In my mind, if the app was $4.99, then drops to .99, then goes back up.. it's still a "paid" app. But if you have an app for .99, then want to give it free for a short time, then charge again, the developer gets screwed because of a rather easy to implement issue of the market, and their odd rule that if an app is free, it stays that way forever.



TreKing

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Sep 8, 2010, 12:55:20 PM9/8/10
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On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 11:21 AM, Kevin Duffey <andj...@gmail.com> wrote:
Yah, I don't know if it's possible to do a mass email to all your downloaders.. that would be nice, but I would guess that google/market protect end users from that potential for various reasons.

Yeah, didn't seem likely. You can send users an email via a proxy in Google Checkout, but you'd have the tedious process of sending them individually.
 
Maybe they don't, but it wouldn't be difficult to put together a table that can store app history info... thus use it for the market to determine if a user already downloaded the app for free and from then on gets free updates.
 
I think the problem is the paid app goes through "the payment processor" while free apps don't, so there's no way of tracking that an app that was downloaded for free should pass the validation when updating (assuming it was made paid again).

Also remember that the Market + Google Checkout combination barely works as it is - I can't imaging giving it more responsibility to track this stuff. The Market has known problems where it won't download apps or gets stuck "Authorizing Purchase" indefinitely. Can you imagine it trying to figure out if a free app should be allowed a paid update?

I certainly agree that this should be technically possible, but even if they ever did add this capability (don't hold your breath), I don't think adding yet another point of failure for the Market would be worth it in the long run.

All we really need is the Market developers to read a "Designing UI for Dummies" book and have them implement a warning on switching that little paid-to-free option that makes the one-way process clear.

Streets Of Boston

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Sep 8, 2010, 7:38:09 PM9/8/10
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I think that you can't change a free app to a paid app because Google
wants avoid developers trying to game the market.

A free app gets tons more downloads than paid app (even if paid app is
only $0.99); the difference is not measured in fractions, but in
orders of magnitude. If the developer would be able to change a free
app to a paid app, the developer could make the app free, then wait
until the download count is very very high and then change it back to
a paid app. Then his or her paid app is very high in the rankings due
to the sheer number of downloads.

Of course, every developer would start doing the same if other do this
as well. The ranking system will be useless.
> > On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 10:13 AM, Kevin Duffey <andjar...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >> I fail to understand why you can't go back to paid.. it's all automatic,
> >> no human intervention. Is there any explanation as to why Google chose this
> >> path?
>
> > My assumption: when you update a paid app, the Market verifies you actually
> > paid for it. If you downloaded an app for free, then it changed to paid,
> > this would fail and users would have to pay for previously free app, which
> > is a no-no according to the terms.
>
> >> Mass email by developer to those that downloaded originals?
>
> > Is that even possible?
>
> > ---------------------------------------------------------------------------­----------------------
> > TreKing <http://sites.google.com/site/rezmobileapps/treking> - Chicago
> > transit tracking app for Android-powered devices
>
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Maps.Huge.Info (Maps API Guru)

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Sep 8, 2010, 11:47:18 PM9/8/10
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I think the scenario you describe could be easily rendered moot by
simply zeroing the counters when it's changed from free to charge.
That would discourage that practice in a New York minute.

-John Coryat

Sean Chitwood

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Sep 9, 2010, 1:10:26 AM9/9/10
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Isn't that what they have done by requiring you to re-list the app?

--Sean

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Doug

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Sep 9, 2010, 1:32:52 AM9/9/10
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On Sep 8, 4:38 pm, Streets Of Boston <flyingdutc...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I think that you can't change a free app to a paid app because Google
> wants avoid developers trying to game the market.

Actually, the Apple App Store allows apps to go from paid to free and
back. And your app WILL see a spike during its free time. It's a
known and exploited mechanism for developers to drum up interest in
the app.

How it affects the rankings, we don't know. Maybe an app just has
separate stats for paid and free.

Anyway, there is logic in a market implementation handling it either
way. Or maybe the Android Market didn't follow Apple's lead because
they had to wedge it into Google Checkout, which we know has been
problematic.

Doug

steveneHP

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Sep 7, 2010, 11:09:04 PM9/7/10
to Android Developers
Agreed. I experienced this during one of Google's payment processing
outages, trying to make the app free for one buyer. Luckily I didn't
have that many users, now having to convert them all over to a
different package name after unpublishing the first app.

I know it would be _way too difficult_ for someone at Google to add
the line, "Once free, apps can never be switched back to paid." at the
Free/Paid selection area (let alone the possibility of adding a
dialogue pop-up to that effect). (What's that, like a 10min text edit
versus 100's of pissed off developers spending days?)
They make that "Free" radio button way too inviting, with no mention
of consequences.

If they executed this UI to make sure there were more free apps (along
with infuriated developers), then their strategy is definitely
succeeding.

- Feelin for ya

Raziel23x

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Sep 14, 2010, 2:35:59 PM9/14/10
to Android Developers
I agree but IMO I would create a seperate one to have them download
for free then after that day is over just pull the free one but this
does not fix the issue at hand
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