Make In-App Purchases more transparent to Customers.

Number:rdar://14524085 Date Originated:23-Jul-2013 03:23 PM
Status:Open Resolved:
Product:iOS Product Version:
Classification: Reproducible:
23-Jul-2013 03:23 PM David Smith:

The In-App Purchase (IAP) system has been a marked success since its first introduction into iOS.  It provides a great avenue for developers to get revenue from their apps on an ongoing basis and in contexts where making the initial purchase free is dramatically better.  This success has, however, brought with it a few challenges.  Most worrying is the rise of applications that seek to use IAP in ways that coerce or mislead users into making purchases.  

Users ultimately have responsibility for their own actions but I think making a few small changes to how IAP is presented to the customer would cause a dramatic improvement in the transparency and honesty of the interaction.  My goal in these recommendations would be to avoid situations where customers would be regretful of past purchases.  It is best for the App Store in general if customers feel happy and comfortable with all their past purchases.  To that end here are two recommendations that I think would improve communication with users and help build better trust.

1) Provide some indication in the App Store description of an app that makes use of IAP regarding the typical cost to a typical user.  Something like median revenue per user would likely work well here.  Showing this value directly to the user would likely be confusing so instead I'd suggest showing it on a symbolic scale (like most travel guides).  For example, $ = $0-5, $$ = $5-20, $$$ = $20+.

2) Provide an indication of the cumulative purchase total a user has made in an app directly on the In-App purchase screen.  This makes sure it 100% clear to user how much they have spent on the app prior to each purchase and therefore reduces the likelihood of them making purchases they will later regret.  

More details about these suggestions can be found in the blog post that spurred this Radar:

Steps to Reproduce:

Download and make an In-App Purchase within an iOS.  

Expected Results:

As a customer have a clear and straightforward indication of the cost I should expect and have spent so far.  

Actual Results:

There is no way to know how expensive an app is typically for a user or to easily see my cumulative spending to date. 




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