It's time for apps to grow up

22 Jan 2016

As featured in DisruptiveViews

I’m terrified to admit that I may be growing up at last. I’m careful not to say ‘maturing’ because that would be lying. And this sudden epiphany has come about because instead of jumping into every bit of new technology that comes along I am actually analyzing it carefully before proceeding.

Yes – shock, horror. This new approach has come about after countless disappointing encounters with apps, gadgets and accessories that simply end up being crap – usually after I have paid for them.

And there lies one of the great issues of the online world today – you can rarely test the product before buying. What happened to the days of the 24-hour trial period. It used to be the norm for games but now you just get to read the seller’s description (always glowing), the reviews (usually glowing from family members and dim from competitors).

After you buy you soon discover the shortcomings and just try to get your money back from the app stores. It costs you more in time and effort than the app was worth. They prey on that I’m sure.

Yes, I know, I can buy and return goods from Amazon and others if I am not happy with them.

That’s if I actually get them in the first place (hit and miss where I am) or they are not intercepted by customs and excise keen to collect some extra VAT that the sender forgot to put on the invoice.

Returns might might work well in the USA and UK where retailers are used to the process but where I live it means going to a Post Office (couriers don’t pick up from homes), lining up for an hour, explaining what needs to happen in another language, paying an arm and leg then praying that it actually makes it back.

OK, so I choose to live in third-world countries at times but this is Western Europe where my fastest broadband speed is still only 2 Mbps. Carrier pigeons (and there are plenty of those here) would be faster and probably more reliable (if they are not shot and eaten first).

Back to the point. Because of all the reasons above, I simply don’t trust what I read any more and I just don’t want the disappointment and hassle that comes with something that doesn’t live up to my expectations.

I’m guessing I am not the only one. Retail therapy may be on the cards. Talking to a real person face to face, buying from a bricks and mortar outlet (a real shop), where I can touch and feel the stuff I’m about to spend good money on, that will take it back if it isn’t right for whatever reason.

I may not be overwhelmed by choice, as happens when I go online, but I do get instant gratification if the goods are in stock. The fact that many retailers are now using their retail emporiums as pick up locations for goods bought online supports this theory. Many people are not always at home when the delivery person calls and it is often not convenient waiting around for them to arrive. Waiting can be stressful.

Music, however, is one thing that works with online delivery and that’s because we are used to listening to radio. Services like Spotify let you select what music you want to listen to – for a fee, but it’s cheaper and easier than going to the music or ‘record’ (if there are any left) and amassing a vast collection of vinyl or CDs, despite the former making a solid comeback driven mainly by romantics. The same applies with games, generally.

However, with apps the choice is overwhelming – there are millions to choose from – and it could very well be their downfall. That and the fact that you can’t ‘try before you buy.’ How long before the market comes to the same conclusion and forces a rethink by Apple and Android? Or will we opt to buy direct from suppliers that offer that facility?

Either way, apps need to grow up. After all, I have.

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