Apple has introduced a small but interesting tweak to the way it markets apps on the App Store. As you can see in the screenshot above, non-paid apps are now presented with the word ‘GET’ rather than ‘FREE’. While the reason for the change in how Apple is presenting non-paid apps isn’t clear, it’s likely due to the popularity of ‘freemium’ apps and in-app purchases, something that has been the source of controversy for Apple in the past…
Apple has taken a great deal of flack from customers and consumer protection groups through the years over apps marketed as free that push in-app purchases. The freemium model has been used in some cases to circumvent the lack of app trials on the App Store. For example, a developer may make an app free to download, but require an in-app purchase to unlock the app’s full functionality. The new ‘Get’ labels seem to address such a use case where previously ‘Free’ could be misleading.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced earlier this year that the company had settled with the Federal Trade Commission over a dispute involving in-app purchases, although he insisted “the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do.”
A class action lawsuit in which Apple settled during 2013 previously lead to the company to add an “offers in-app purchases” label to apps on the App Store that offer paid content within the app. Apple previously agreed to offer credit or refunds to customers as part of the class action lawsuit.
While ‘Free’ apps are now labeled with a ‘Get’ button for downloading, paid apps continue to list the price for purchasing the app, and previously downloaded apps display the cloud icon.
With apps like the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game reportedly expected to earn $200 million from in-app purchases, the change from ‘Free’ to ‘Get’ makes sense (although personally I think ‘Get’ may be a strong word).
The change is also being reported by App Store users in other countries with various translations of the change.
Free apps on the Mac App Store also now reflect the label change with new ‘Get’ buttons. (That’s a lot of ‘Get’.)
Update: It appears Apple is continuing to experiment with how it is presenting FREE/GET on the App Store. Rather than presenting either ‘Free’ or ‘Get’ below a non-paid app on a screen without a download button, Apple is now opting to leave that space without any label (including free) while paid apps continue to list price. Non-paid upfront apps continue to show ‘Get’ for the actual download button. You can view yesterday’s approach in the screenshots above and the latest change in the screenshots below.