Apple has removed the free trials for two of its most popular software packages, the photo editing program Aperture and the office suite iWork, from its website as of yesterday and instead redirects users to the Mac App Store, where they have the choice to buy the product at full price.
Any users who try to download free trials from the Apple website are greeted simply by the message:
The trial version of iWork is no longer supported. But you can easily purchase Keynote, Pages and Numbers from the Mac App Store.
The Aperture trial page sports a similar message, along with a warning that users should uninstall the trial version before proceeding to install the full version. Users are then redirected to the App Store, where they have the choice of purchasing Aperture at the full retail price of $79.99, or $19.99 per iWork application (Pages, Keynote and Numbers), a lot less than the boxed retail version but with no opportunity to try out the product before committing to buying.
The move has come as a bit of surprise and indeed Apple has declined to comment on why the free trials were removed. The company does not allow demos in its own App Store, encouraging developers rather to post any trial versions of Mac software on their own websites, with the App Store being reserved for the full (and often, paid) versions. However, the step could be seen as a preparation for the upcoming Mountain Lion launch this summer – we already know that the App Store is at the core of this release, with even mundane OS X software updates going through the App Store.
The move could also be construed as a further “iOS-ification” of the Mac. Like the Mac App Store, the iTunes App Store does not allow time-limited demos of applications, meaning that many developers have created both “free” and “paid” versions of their software, with the “free” version often lacking in functionality or offering additional features through an in-app purchase.
Were Apple Right?
The move has been seen as quite controversial by many people, and we here at Mac AppStorm would love to hear all your comments and thoughts relating to this matter. Is Apple’s killing of free trials a good or bad business model? Are they sacrificing potential customers in doing this? Share your frustration (or praise) in the comments section below.