Can an app really be described as “free” when a user racks up thousands of dollars’ worth of in-app purchases? The vast majority of app developers say yes. The European Commission says no. Guess who’s winning that argument?
Henceforth, any app that incudes in-app purchases can no longer be labeled as free – at least in the European Union. To get you up-to-speed on this topic (it seems likely such a decision could be coming to America in the very near future) we wanted to explore the motivation for this ruling; why it was made; who it helps and how it changes things for Apple and Google going forward.
As of now, you can actually find “free” mobile-apps in the Google Play or iTunes store that require an in-app purchase to unlock or use the app. So in other words, these apps are not free at all. Only apps with optional in-app purchase can now be called “free.”
The EU wants Google and Apple to re-label the former so that consumers can distinguish between the two. Calling these apps “free” leads to the “extortion” of kids who are not old enough to make purchasing decisions, so say the courts.
As we’ve seen, when kids are the driving force behind the mobile-app economy, claiming that your app is free can come at a high cost to the parents of these young consumers. After a multitude of complaints from parents receiving hefty bills from unexpected in-app purchases their kids, the European Commission called on tech giants Google and Apple to comply with their new in-app laws.