May 11 AT 3:40 PM Anthony Domanico 110 Comments

Is the 15-minute application refund window bad for Android?

Overall, Google I/O has been a wonderful conference that reminds Android and ChromeOS users about the many reasons they’ve gone Google. From the announcement of Ice Cream Sandwich, to the launch of Google Music, to ChromeOS for Business and Academia, Google has really hit this one out of the ballpark.

But I/O is not all roses and unicorns. During the Android Market session, Google announced that it has no plans to change the 15-minute window it gives users to test out applications and refund those that they don’t get a good first impression of.

In my opinion (and I’m sure in many of yours as well), 15 minutes is simply too short a time to get a feel for how well you’re going to like an application. Heck, many of the newer, larger applications may take more than 15 minutes just to download and set up, let alone test out for how likely you’re going to enjoy the app. Back in the glory days, Google offered a 24-hour refund window which was a great amount of time to really get a feel for whether or not this application was worthy of the $1-30+ you were going to shell out for it.

Keeping the refund window at a measly 15 minutes is bad for developers and bad for Android in general. Android users are going to think twice before purchasing applications that I classify as “luxuries” (i.e., those that are unnecessary but cool to have) for fear of wasting money on applications that sounded like a good idea, but after trying them out for a while, realize they have little use for them.

I believe that we need at least a few hours to really test out applications before committing to spending hard-earned money on them. In the end, applications that are well put-together and serve either an essential or a nice-to-have function will sell more with a larger refund window, and those that aren’t, won’t. Yes, it’s great that sites provide hands-on reviews of applications to provide guidance as to which applications we should buy and which we should avoid, but most people want to experience it for themselves.

To that end, a couple of us from the Android and Me crew discussed this issue, and we came up with three potential solutions:

  1. Google could increase the refund window to somewhere in the 4–24-hour timeframe.
  2. Google could put the refund window in the hands of developers by offering a few timing windows (15 mins, 30 mins, 1 hour, 12 hours, 24 hours, etc.), and let them choose for themselves.
  3. Google could take a page from Amazon’s playbook and offer “test-driving” of applications on their fancy new web-front for the Android Market.

As always, I’m curious to hear from you, our readers.

  1. Am I completely crazy/off-base on this?
  2. Anyone think the 15-minute refund window is a good idea?
  3. What is the sweet spot for a refund window?
  4. Would the ability to test-drive applications while maintaining the 15-minute window be a good middle-ground?
  5. Is it a good idea to put the refund window in the hands of the developers themselves?

Sound off to these (and more) questions in the comments below!

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

    Most Tweeted This Week