Posts tagged could

Apple Pay Could Mean Shoppable Paths for Mobile Search

A new mobile ad feature allows users to save mobile offers to Apple Pay and Google Wallet with the tap of a finger. This new technology could mean better solutions for search offerings.

View full post on Home – SearchEngineWatch

Apps Could Be an Innovative Approach to Local Search

Many small businesses think that apps are best left to big brands and games, but app search is on the rise, and could bring big business by way of local search.

View full post on Home – SearchEngineWatch

The Apple Watch Could Get Its Own Dedicated Store

Apple is mulling the idea of creating dedicated stores for its Apple Watch device, according to reports in the French press. Those reports pick up on rumors of several upmarket Paris retailers building separate display cases for the smartwatch ahead of its launch in April.

If those display cases prove to be a success, the reports suggest, then Apple will consider setting up new retail outlets specifically to sell the Apple Watch alongside purveyors of luxury goods. It could also set up smaller stores inside spaces run by other retailers, in the same way that Mac computers are currently sold at Best Buy in the U.S.

See also: Apple Bets Big On Its Smartwatch, Although Killer Apps May Be Missing In Action

It’s another sign of how Apple sees its smartwatch—as less of a gadget and more of a high-end piece of jewelry. The base price of the device has been set at $349, though the cost of an 18k gold Apple Watch Edition model has been estimated at several thousand dollars.

It would therefore make sense for Apple to adopt the retail strategy used by luxury watchmakers. It would also create a clear distinction between the Apple Watch and the firm’s mobile devices and computers.

Of course, Apple already has a strong high street presence, unlike most of its competitors—Apple Stores in several landmark locations across the globe have become almost as iconic as the products inside them. Work is already underway to accommodate the new Apple Watch inside the Cupertino company’s retail outlets, and that’s said to include high-security safes where the most expensive Apple Watches will be kept.

See also: LG Strives For Style With The All-Metal Urbane Smartwatch

Apple once again appears confident focusing on the premium end of the market—perhaps even more so than with its phones and tablets. While the first Android Wear smartwatches focused very much on functionality and low prices, more recent models (like the LG Urbane) have begun to aim higher in terms of cost and style. Both the Pebble and the Sony Smartwatch 3 are now available in premium steel versions alongside the regular editions.

We’ll have to wait until April to see exactly how the Apple Watch will be rolled out, and the way the three editions are priced. If it proves as much of a success as its maker thinks it’s going to be, don’t be surprised if it gets its own retail space in the near future.

Lead image courtesy of Apple

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HTC Could Be The Next Android Partner To Ditch Google In Smartwatches

HTC’s rumored smartwatch may shun Google’s Android Wear operating software, according to a new report from the Chinese tech-leaks service Upleaks. If so, that would make HTC the latest Android smartphone maker to edge away from Google’s wearable-technology software in order to go it alone against the Apple Watch.

The Upleaks report offered a slew of alleged details about a device codenamed “Petra,” a smartwatch HTC may debut at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona next month, according to rumors.

In particular, the Upleaks post asserts that Petra will run a real-time operating system developed internally at HTC, one that will “support” both Android and Apple devices. Presumably that means the watch will be able to link up wirelessly to either iPhones or Android smartphones, although exactly how that will work or how useful it will be remains anyone’s guess.

That kind of cross-compatibility is a rarity in the smartwatch world—outside, that is, of Pebble’s iconoclastic line of wearables.

More Details, More Questions

According to the Upleaks post, the Petra will also:

  • Use the ST Micro STM32L151 chipset
  • Feature a 1.8-inch PMOLED flexible display
  • Claim a three day battery life—thanks, apparently, to the chipset’s ultra-low power consumption
  • Offer Bluetooth and a GPS sensor
  • Be waterproof to a depth of three feet
  • Come in three sizes and two colors
  • Launch in the first quarter of 2015

Upleaks has been generally reliable in the past. This past October, the Upleak Twitter account posted images of HTC’s Nexus 9 tablet ahead of its official announcement. The site also tweeted accurate leaks about the as-yet unreleased LG G Watch back in June 2014.

Still, there are plenty of details still up in the air. It’s not clear, for instance, if Petra is part of the recently announced partnership between HTC and fitness company Under Armour. Or, for that matter, that Petra is even a full-fledged smartwatch, much less HTC’s only—or even primary—offering in the space. Last year, for instance, there were rumors of an HTC-made wearable based on Qualcomm’s ill-fated Toq smartwatch.

HTC also has an existing commitment to Android Wear that’s now in question. Back when Android Wear was first announced, HTC was confirmed as one of Google’s smartwatch partners—but since that announcement, we’ve seen exactly zip from HTC on that front.

Android Wears Out Its Welcome

HTC isn’t the only Android stalwart who might want to get out from under Google’s thumb. Samsung continues to eschew Android on its wearables in favor of its homegrown mobile OS; all but one of its smartwatch offerings have run on the open-source Tizen operating system (the underwhelming Gear Live being the lone exception). Meanwhile, despite offering two Android Wear smartwatches, LG seems to have a new smartwatch based on WebOS in the works, which was spotted at CES this past January.

It’s probably no coincidence that hardware makers are tugging at the leash as the Apple Watch nears launch. Apple, of course, will have complete control over the device’s hardware and software, a combination that has led to unprecedented success with the iPhone over the last few years.

LG, Samsung, and now (apparently) HTC would undoubtedly love to manage something similar on their own. Moreover, if HTC makes its smartwatch cross-platform compatible, it could have a much bigger consumer base than those of either the Apple Watch or Android Wear.

On the other hand, going it alone means losing out on the huge ecosystem of apps that Android and Android Wear have at their disposal. We’ll know for sure once MWC kicks off in Spain in a few weeks.

Lead photo courtesy of Google

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How Big Data Could Limit Super Bowl Sticker Shock

Guest author Alex Salkever is the head of product marketing and business development at Silk.co.

Andrew Kitchell is from Seattle and is the co-founder of PriceMethod, a startup that helps AirBnB and HomeAway hosts price their properties. His co-founder Joe Fraiman is from Boston. They both follow football and pondered going to the Super Bowl, but were floored by the high prices for accommodations—even though their business is all about supply and demand, which gives them a certain insight into the impact of 100,000 people abruptly descending on a city in search of an affordable place to stay.

Credit: PriceMethod

So Kitchell and Fraiman flipped their methodology around and built a simple tool to help Super Bowl attendees find cheaper last minute lodging. They took the same Big Data harvesting and categorization infrastructure they had built and, on a dime, put a new UI on the results to make it easier for the public to search for cheap accommodations—the exact opposite of their normal business helping peer-to-peer property owners charge what the market will bear.

I caught up with Kitchell to talk with him about their Super Bowl findings and how PriceMethod crawls data and builds data models that can give property owners the same pricing tools as big hotel chains. Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Leveling The Playing Field

ReadWrite: So where did the idea come from?

Andrew Kitchell: We are a data science-focused team of Y Combinator alums, and usually we help Airbnb and HomeAway listings with data-driven pricing. However, my co-founder is from Boston, and I’m from Seattle, so we thought this would be a fun time to use our data to help our fellow football fans.

RW: Tell us a little bit about how PriceMethod works.

AK: We’re trying to level the playing field for P2P (peer-to-peer) accommodations versus traditional big hotels. To do that, we need to have a good picture of the entire market including hotels and other accommodation sources.

As a base we collect data from Airbnb and HomeAway, the two biggest P2P accommodation networks. We do that several times per day. Additionally, we collect hotel price and occupancy data from multiple sources across the Internet. Primarily, we use hotel data to build a predictive pricing model for local demand. We assume that hotels, because they have very strong predictive pricing tools, are already baking in good assumptions for local demand based on their own algorithms and historical data.

We also use vacation rental and P2P property data to build a reactive pricing model. This adjusts prices based on how local demand translates into actual bookings within a neighborhood, inventory type. You need that in the P2P market because it is still somewhat unpredictable.

RW: How do you account for things like the price of inventory taken off the market?

AK: For scraped hotel and vacation rental or P2P listings, we infer the “booked price” for any day from the last observed price. We collect data from channels throughout the day, so we will observe and record any booking within, at most, 24 hours. With a linked account, we can get perfect access to booking data. However, as a first step, we can use the last observed price to inform a robust model.

How To Build A Pricing Model

RW: Your team has some deep experience in building pricing models for big financial firms in commodities and other trading markets. How do you build your pricing models for the P2P accommodations markets?

AK: Our current pricing model consists of four components. First, we base price recommendations on the average market value of similar listings. Then we make a local adjustment due to the popularity of any given neighborhood. This adjusts and improves our base pricing model.

We then apply a time-sensitive model model informed by the booking curve of the local market, taking into account time periods expected for local bookings. Lastly, we look at demand driven changes depending on the local availability of vacation rentals and hotels.

Q: So how is the Super Bowl different in terms of pricing?

A: By our calculation, at least 75% of the P2P and vacation rental market is underpriced for the Super Bowl. We’re seeing some amazing price increases for informed owners, and our favorite example of how the rest of the accommodations market is moving is captured by the fact that someone is selling a basic room for 20x their normal rate.

For the Super Bowl, we wanted to determine how hosts could price their home during a period of exceptional demand. So we actually skewed our model to analyze how much experienced P2P hosts—those with more reviews and more future bookings—were increasing prices, and how booked out these listings were at their raised prices. In some cases, owners are increasing their prices up to 15 times their normal rates, so we were able to observe bookings at this homes to discern the efficacy of these increases.

For hosts during the Super Bowl, we used this analysis to recommend a reasonable range of price increases for other homes. For travelers attending the Super Bowl, we used this same process to determine which homes were priced best in comparison to their potential value.

Let’s Talk Nerdy

RW: What does your tech stack look like? 

AK: It’s a Rails stack with a PostGres database and Reddis for caching. The whole thing is sitting on top of Amazon Web Services so we can spin up as many nodes as we need to do our crawls. We use Mechanize for a lot of our crawling and are using a combination of APIs, mobile APIs and standard Web data to fuel our system. AWS makes it very easy to get up and running. It’s almost a no brainer. It has so many tools and for the cost and the power, it’s quite amazing.

RW: For vacation rental owners that use you, how much more money can they expect to make?

AK: Our initial numbers show we are increasing their revenue by 20% to 40%. Those numbers will get better as we have a large set of customers. We can’t disclose numbers right now but this is a huge, multi-billion dollar market that is poorly addressed right now. AirBnB is adding thousands of listings per day. We’re bootstrapping right now and are going to raise money in a few months. But we’re confident the market is there. 

Lead graphic courtesy of Shutterstock

View full post on ReadWrite

How Big Data Could Limit Super Bowl Sticker Shock

Guest author Alex Salkever is the head of product marketing and business development at Silk.co.

Andrew Kitchell is from Seattle and is the co-founder of PriceMethod, a startup that helps AirBnB and HomeAway hosts price their properties. His co-founder Joe Fraiman is from Boston. They both follow football and pondered going to the Super Bowl, but were floored by the high prices for accommodations—even though their business is all about supply and demand, which gives them a certain insight into the impact of 100,000 people abruptly descending on a city in search of an affordable place to stay.

Credit: PriceMethod

So Kitchell and Fraiman flipped their methodology around and built a simple tool to help Super Bowl attendees find cheaper last minute lodging. They took the same Big Data harvesting and categorization infrastructure they had built and, on a dime, put a new UI on the results to make it easier for the public to search for cheap accommodations—the exact opposite of their normal business helping peer-to-peer property owners charge what the market will bear.

I caught up with Kitchell to talk with him about their Super Bowl findings and how PriceMethod crawls data and builds data models that can give property owners the same pricing tools as big hotel chains. Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Leveling The Playing Field

ReadWrite: So where did the idea come from?

Andrew Kitchell: We are a data science-focused team of Y Combinator alums, and usually we help Airbnb and HomeAway listings with data-driven pricing. However, my co-founder is from Boston, and I’m from Seattle, so we thought this would be a fun time to use our data to help our fellow football fans.

RW: Tell us a little bit about how PriceMethod works.

AK: We’re trying to level the playing field for P2P (peer-to-peer) accommodations versus traditional big hotels. To do that, we need to have a good picture of the entire market including hotels and other accommodation sources.

As a base we collect data from Airbnb and HomeAway, the two biggest P2P accommodation networks. We do that several times per day. Additionally, we collect hotel price and occupancy data from multiple sources across the Internet. Primarily, we use hotel data to build a predictive pricing model for local demand. We assume that hotels, because they have very strong predictive pricing tools, are already baking in good assumptions for local demand based on their own algorithms and historical data.

We also use vacation rental and P2P property data to build a reactive pricing model. This adjusts prices based on how local demand translates into actual bookings within a neighborhood, inventory type. You need that in the P2P market because it is still somewhat unpredictable.

RW: How do you account for things like the price of inventory taken off the market?

AK: For scraped hotel and vacation rental or P2P listings, we infer the “booked price” for any day from the last observed price. We collect data from channels throughout the day, so we will observe and record any booking within, at most, 24 hours. With a linked account, we can get perfect access to booking data. However, as a first step, we can use the last observed price to inform a robust model.

How To Build A Pricing Model

RW: Your team has some deep experience in building pricing models for big financial firms in commodities and other trading markets. How do you build your pricing models for the P2P accommodations markets?

AK: Our current pricing model consists of four components. First, we base price recommendations on the average market value of similar listings. Then we make a local adjustment due to the popularity of any given neighborhood. This adjusts and improves our base pricing model.

We then apply a time-sensitive model model informed by the booking curve of the local market, taking into account time periods expected for local bookings. Lastly, we look at demand driven changes depending on the local availability of vacation rentals and hotels.

Q: So how is the Super Bowl different in terms of pricing?

A: By our calculation, at least 75% of the P2P and vacation rental market is underpriced for the Super Bowl. We’re seeing some amazing price increases for informed owners, and our favorite example of how the rest of the accommodations market is moving is captured by the fact that someone is selling a basic room for 20x their normal rate.

For the Super Bowl, we wanted to determine how hosts could price their home during a period of exceptional demand. So we actually skewed our model to analyze how much experienced P2P hosts—those with more reviews and more future bookings—were increasing prices, and how booked out these listings were at their raised prices. In some cases, owners are increasing their prices up to 15 times their normal rates, so we were able to observe bookings at this homes to discern the efficacy of these increases.

For hosts during the Super Bowl, we used this analysis to recommend a reasonable range of price increases for other homes. For travelers attending the Super Bowl, we used this same process to determine which homes were priced best in comparison to their potential value.

Let’s Talk Nerdy

RW: What does your tech stack look like? 

AK: It’s a Rails stack with a PostGres database and Reddis for caching. The whole thing is sitting on top of Amazon Web Services so we can spin up as many nodes as we need to do our crawls. We use Mechanize for a lot of our crawling and are using a combination of APIs, mobile APIs and standard Web data to fuel our system. AWS makes it very easy to get up and running. It’s almost a no brainer. It has so many tools and for the cost and the power, it’s quite amazing.

RW: For vacation rental owners that use you, how much more money can they expect to make?

AK: Our initial numbers show we are increasing their revenue by 20% to 40%. Those numbers will get better as we have a large set of customers. We can’t disclose numbers right now but this is a huge, multi-billion dollar market that is poorly addressed right now. AirBnB is adding thousands of listings per day. We’re bootstrapping right now and are going to raise money in a few months. But we’re confident the market is there. 

Lead graphic courtesy of Shutterstock

View full post on ReadWrite

5 Startups That Could Shake Up Money, Shopping And More In 2015

ReadWritePredict is a look ahead at the technology trends and companies that will shape the coming year.

Startups are all about innovation, although it’s often difficult to distinguish in advance between world-changing technology and mere novelty. And the competition to break through is fiercer than ever; there are over 40,000 startups on AngelList, a place for connecting startups with funding and talent.

See also: 9 Startups That Made Life Better In 2014

The best and most noteworthy startups can completely reinvent an existing market or change faster than any other player to stay competitive in their particular niche—all while transforming their industry or the way we live.

So while it requires a bit of crystal-ball scrying, here’s our take on five startups you’re going to be hearing a lot more about later this year.

Robinhood

Robinhood is a mobile-first stock trading app that’s trying to make investing more accessible by eliminating online brokerage commissions—the fees most firms charge for buying or selling stock on your behalf.

Turns out people like free. Robinhood says nearly half-a-million people have signed up since it announced the service in December 2013, even though it only launched its app (for iOS only at the moment) last month. And it hopes to grow its company size as well as add support for more platforms in 2015. 

Large brokerages like Charles Schwab and Fidelity charge roughly $7-$10 per trade. Robinhood, by contrast, allows its users to buy and sell U.S. stocks for free. The company claims that its low overhead costs—it has no storefront offices and only offers free trades to users who manage their own accounts and trade on mobile devices—allow it to eliminate those fees.

Large brokerages like Charles Schwab and Fidelity charge roughly $7-$10 per trade. Robinhood, by contrast, allows its users to buy and sell U.S. stocks for free. The company claims that its low overhead costs—it has no storefront offices and only offers free trades to users who manage their own accounts and trade on mobile devices—allow it to eliminate those fees.

 It definitely has its eye on younger users who may have been put off by trading fees; the company says the average age of Robinhood users is 27.

“We really think the way to get someone interested in investing is to make it a daily habit,” Robinhood cofounder Vladimir Tenev told Benzinga. “That’s a lot harder when it’s not a mobile product.”

Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway is a dress rental startup that primarily operates online with more than 5 million users in its community. It’s made waves in the fashion world by making high-end designer clothes, like Vera Wang, accessible to the masses in just a few clicks. 

The company has partnered with 270 designers thus far. You can order dresses or accessories online to rent for 4 or 8 days. Renters return the item via prepaid envelope.  

Orders at RTR jumped by 120 percent from 2013 to 2014. This year, the company plans on making its store more accessible by opening up physical stores in 4-5 new cities. The company found that some people still want to actually try on clothes before renting.

One big element of RTR’s success is its speedy, highly-skilled dry cleaning service, which tidies up high-end outfits for rewearing—and which may soon qualify as the world’s largest dry cleaner, measured in pounds per hour.

RTR also recently launched a subscription-based model that allows fashionistas to rent out designer accessories for $49 per month. You can rent up to three accessories at a time and exchange items unlimitedly with free shipping.

MassDrop

Massdrop started as a way to bring like-minded product aficionados together to chat, vote and qualify for group discounts on items such as headphones, keyboards or speakers, straight from the manufacturer. This year, the startup will be expanding an interesting new crowdfunding effort that could bring it into competition with the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Last year, Massdrop partnered with product specialists to poll members in order to design and produce a crowdsourced mechanical computer keyboard. Keyboard experts like Jacob Alexander led the community drive for the “perfect mechanical keyboard,” a customizable alternative to conventional “membrane” type keyboards without full mechanical key switches.

Massdrop polled and interviewed more than 1,300 keyboard enthusiasts, from engineers to tech hobbyists found on existing online tech communities, like Geekhack, according to Gizmodo. After each detail of the hardware was voted on, Massdrop’s manufacturing and sourcing experts went to work to produce the product.

Since then, Massdrop has collaborated with headphone and microphone company AKG to create an exclusive new headphone as well. The company’s PR rep told us that Massdrop plans to do more of these community-driven original product creations in the near future.   

Similar to the way crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo function, Massdrop lets you pledge on a product within a set timeframe. If the funding goal is reached, all pledgers purchase the product with a reward, usually a discount. Massdrop follows Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” model, where if the goal is not reached, pledgers aren’t charged. And similar to Quirky, community members can vote on the best products.

Spire

Spire is a small wearable activity-tracking device that uses a patent-pending sensor to help monitor stress by tracking breathing and body movement patterns. Originally scheduled to ship in September of 2014, the device just started shipping last month and is now available for $149.95 for one tracker. The company said in a blog post that the delay resulted from overwhelming demand and production issues.

Spire is one health wearable that stands out from the pack because it aims to track the health of both mind and body. It monitors breathing and physical movement in order to provide immediate health feedback users can benefit from right away.

For instance, when you’re stressed, sometimes the best thing to do is simply to stop and breathe, although that’s easy to forget amid, well, your stress. Clipped on your belt or bra, Spire can alert you through its app when you need to stop and take a deep breath to relax. Likewise, if you’ve been a couch potato all day, Spire’s notification can nudge you to get up and stretch your legs.

It tracks your breathing and body movement patterns, stores this data in the cloud and transmits the info to your mobile device through Bluetooth in real-time. It currently only supports iOS devices, although the company is working on an Android version.

The technology took four years to develop, Digital Trends reports, and includes a wireless battery charging station. The battery reportedly lasts up to a week after just one charge.

If the activity tracker effectively does what it claims, Spire’s ability to detect and report stress patterns in real-time offers an interesting opportunity to manage stress better. Spire has more in store as well. It is currently developing new features to track sleep patterns and recommend ways to get a better night’s sleep as well.

Navdy

Navdy is attempting to solve the distracted-driver problem by moving car and mobile app info away from clunky dashboards or cell screens and onto simple interfaces that seem like they’re floating outside the windshield. It’s a much anticipated product, evident by the $2.4 million worth of pre-ordered devices at $299 a pop, reported by TechCrunch in early October 2014. Not bad, considering the company started taking pre-orders in August 2014.

See also: Heads Up! This Startup Thinks It Can Solve The Distracted Driving Problem

The device ships early this year. It’s still available for preorder now for $299; the regular retail price will be a hefty $499.

With Navdy, drivers can view and interact with smartphone apps through voice and gestures commands only, like swiping left to answer an incoming call. After you magnetically mount Navdy on your car’s dashboard just above the wheel, the device projects visuals that are transmitted from your phone through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. 

In addition to displaying notifications from your phone, like for phone calls, messages or Tweets, Navdy also displays info about your car, like current speed and fuel economy using your car’s on-board diagnostics port.

The head-up display was designed by optical engineers, and it uses the same technology that pilots use when landing planes while focusing on the runway ahead. Navdy also maintains safety standards by creating its apps in-house and limiting them to apps it believes is safe to project while driving.

What other startups are you excited about watching in 2015?

Lead photo by Epic Bets; other photos courtesy of Robinhood, Rent the Runway, Spire, Massdrop and Navdy.  

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This Could Be Why Your Local Listing Isn’t Ranking

Google’s search algorithm is always being improved. That being said, Google only releases updates and changes to their algorithm every so often. Last year, they released an improvement known as Pigeon, which sought to improve search ratings on local sites. Why bother with improving local searches? A couple of reasons include: Boosting local chains over corporate ones (such as a local pizzeria versus Pizza Hut) Helping foster community within local regions Giving local consumers a better understanding of their community through the Internet This change gives locally owned businesses a huge boost in reaching their target audience across the Internet and expands their […]

The post This Could Be Why Your Local Listing Isn’t Ranking appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Google Results For “Car Insurance” Could Look Different Very Soon

As Google prepares to get into the car insurance business, those search results will get a shake up seen in other verticals

The post Google Results For “Car Insurance” Could Look Different Very Soon appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

How Apple’s New App-Refund Policy Could Hurt Developers

European Apple users got a holiday bonus recently: Apple now offers a new two-week return policy for iTunes, App Store and iBooks customers in the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and other countries in the European Union.

Apple’s previous policy restricted refunds to a narrow set of circumstances where the user might claim they never got the app in question—before “delivery of the product has started.” Apple support reps could make exceptions when glitches or busy servers made downloading impossible, but people had to contact them first.

Now residents in many European countries won’t have to deal with that hassle. But their win could be a thorny issue for app developers.

European Users May Cheer, But Not All App Makers Will

The official change in policy likely stems from an E.U. mandate last June that requires retailers to provide a 14-day right of cancellation or return period. Likewise, the new terms expand the review period to 14 days, within which users can get a refund, no questions asked.

Right of cancellation: If you choose to cancel your order, you may do so within 14 days from when you received your receipt without giving any reason, except iTunes Gifts which cannot be refunded once you have redeemed the code.

The refund policy does not apply to iTunes gift cards. In all other cases, however, there’s little to stop people from trying out apps and then getting their money back. (They can request it online via the “Report a Problem” tool, or by writing to the company). 

See also: Apple Services iOS Developers With New App Store Analytics

That may be a welcome change for users, but it can complicate matters for app makers. Thanks to the policy, people may try out paid apps and choose to keep ones they wouldn’t have downloaded before. In the best-case scenario, it could wind up lifting its already exploding digital economy even further. The iTunes store brought in $4.6 billion in revenue last quarter, including 85 billion App Store downloads.

Sounds great. But developers who make high-value apps—like games—could wind up being collateral damage if users get in the habit of grabbing them for a specific purpose, then demanding refunds. 

For instance, you can keep your visiting brother out of your hair with “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” and then ask for the $6.99 back after he leaves in a week. No questions asked. It would be the equivalent of buying a DVD, watching the movie, and then returning it—something most retail stores don’t allow.

It’s already hard enough to get users to pay for apps up front. The refund policy will likely push more app developers to offer free games with in-app purchases, such as new levels or abilities that can only be unlocked if the player pays up.

On the other hand, a more liberal refund policy could prompt users to download paid apps they might otherwise have passed up. If those users end up keeping the app, that’s money the developer might not otherwise have seen.

A Test Case

In the U.S., brick-and-mortar retailers tend to offer a similar refund policy that can run anywhere from one week to a couple of months, depending on the purchase and the location. But there’s no universally applied law covering all retailers, both physical and digital—and in most cases, playable media like movies and video games can only be returned unopened.

Apple’s new terms apply to E.U. countries only. The old, annoying restrictions on refunds live on for Mac and iOS users in the U.S., Canada and other non-E.U. countries. 

Photo collaged by Adriana Lee, based on image by OTA Photos

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