iTunes beta suggests app rentals may be in iOS's future

Apple logoA handful of code in iTunes 10.5 beta 9 suggests that Apple may soon start allowing customers to rent apps from the App store, according to The Tech Erra. If a rental system were put into place, it could cut down on money spent on apps that customers never use, which could reduce resentment customers feel toward developers when an app doesn’t work the way they thought it would.

A few strings in the iTunes beta code appear to be pop-up messages to notify customers about the state of rented apps: "Apps are automatically removed from your iTunes library at the end of the rental period" and "This app will be deleted from your computer" are a couple of the included statements.

A rental system through the App Store would be similar to the try-before-you-buy program that Amazon currently offers in its own Android Appstore. None of the language uncovered in the iTunes beta indicates whether rentals would carry a price or be free for their limited run.

The text does suggest that Apple will favor the consumer in rental transactions, in that customers won’t default into an app purchase at the end of a rental period; instead, the app will be removed from their devices. When so many negative reviews focus on an app not doing what a buyer expected it to (through either misdirection or misunderstanding), rentals could create a more positive app shopping experience.

But even with fewer negative reviews, developers could still lose out. Most iPhone users never use an app after the first download, according to a (now aging) study, so customers could dip in and out of apps they only need once without any monetary consequences.

The report is unconfirmed by Apple, as the company did not respond to Ars' requests for comment. If Apple plans to launch a rental program, we’ll likely hear about it at the iPhone event scheduled this week. Ars will be reporting live from the event Tuesday at 10AM PDT.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Apple, iTunes

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