I’m a critic of app stores, I think they’ve got a long way to go before they become a good thing. They are in danger of becoming all that the consumer expects from a software distribution system, I worry there will be no incentive for content providers to build on the experience.
I’ve already covered the point that they are generally terrible to browse, here are what I see as two other crucial flaws in the App Store model.
The most prominent is the lack of software trials. Fully functional apps that cease to function at the end of the demo period. The key part is the 100% functionality, this is needed to truly make an informed purchasing decision. There are plenty of lite versions out there but they don’t offer full functionality. They also make the stores terribly cluttered places by creating multiple instances of each product. Would it really be so hard to introduce a ‘Download as Trial’ option to the item page?
The second issue is the absence of license types, you either own the software or you don’t. There are no trial users, there are no bulk users, there are no student users - just users. I’m not suggesting that there should be a student version of Angry Birds but I don’t think app stores should be an excuse for the lack of license types.
These suggestions don’t come for free, they have their own problems. For instance how to verify students, stop offering the discounts when they stop being students and how to stop them getting the app for others who don't qualify. On trial front it does open you up to a greater piracy threat, any access to source prior to payment is an opportunity for cracking - something we really want to avoid.
That said, I think these are small problems and in light of what has already been overcome and there’s a good chance that these will in fact become features - it’s just a case of waiting.