In an attempt to get people to download their apps more often and by making more money on existing users, some app stores are letting developers advertise free trials, which let users download the full version for free for a limited time. The idea is to lure in more users to make up for some of the millions they lose to deep discounts and giveaways, and also to make it easier for users to cancel their accounts if they decide they don’t want to be subscribers.
It’s worked for Gunbarrel, a visual guide to outdoor activities in cities across the U.S. Their app is good but not great — as far as young companies with limited resources can go. Until they found the app store details page in the Google Play store, they didn’t realize that they could get 10 free trial downloads. And while it might seem a deal-breaker to have that many trial downloads, the creators of Gunbarrel have spent a lot of time worrying whether their 13-year-old daughter would use her free trial to try out their app.
“Apple does not do quite as good a job as Google,” says Gunbarrel’s Co-Founder Lauren Morgan, who launched the company at 26 as a way to give back to the environment and animals she loves. “People are so shocked by how much they get done every time they get an app — we wouldn’t be where we are today without users.”
Morgan’s team at Gunbarrel donates a percentage of downloads made using their app to local groups in their app’s cities. And since they have to give out some free trials to get the word out about their app, free trials could help Gunbarrel sell more apps too.
“Google has put an emphasis on subscription,” Morgan says. “I’m a big Google fan and of course they have Apple in their corner but they have not done as good of a job at attracting subscribers as some of their competitors.”