So recently, the Taipei City Government urged Apple and Google to make changes in their refund policy for mobile apps. “Based on the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, mobile phone users are entitled to a seven-day period to test-use the software downloaded to their phones, and they can ask for a refund any time during this period,” according to Taipei City Government Regulations Committee chairman, Ching-Yuan Yeh.

Apple agreed to the change, and now Taiwanese consumers can refund whatever app they bought within the 7 days, and it is an “unconditional” refund policy. While Google? Google has removed all paid apps from Taiwan Android Market.

Lucifer Jheng (@monkeypotion) did a good job of summarizing the news in his Gamasutra blog post “Refund Policy on App Store and Android Market in Taiwan”.

He ended his post with the questions: “Do you agree that it is a proper refund policy? 15 minutes or 7 days, which do you consider as a right trial period for apps? What do you think about the whole issue?”

Do I agree that this is a proper refund policy?

As a Taiwanese consumer, the first thing that my officemates and I thought of is: let’s download “Infinity Blade” and all the other pricey games they got there. This reminds of this scene in Glee:

Santana: “This food was unsatisfactory. We’d like to send it back.”
Waitress: “But you ate it all.”
Santana: “I’m pretty sure that you have to do as we say. And we’d like to send this back and for you to bring us more.”
Brittany: “There was a mouse in mine.”

Is 7 days a right trial period for apps? If it’s a game, I think you’d be able to finish the whole thing and return it before the 7 days is over. Hmm, I should go get myself an iPod/ iPhone/ iPad.
So the question of, will this policy be abused? Mm, maybe? Although, most consumers are, probably, not be as petty.

As a Taiwanese developer, I think I’ll stick to the iOS development for now (I was even considering switching to Android development a few weeks ago, oh well).

According to Lucifer Jheng, “a lot of app developers are moaning”. And this might influence developers in two ways: “transfer from up-front-paid to free-to-play business” and “don’t provide localization support in Chinese or even don’t sell apps in Taiwan”.

I don’t think this is so drastic that developers would be forced to switch to free-to-play business, unless the developers are only targeting the Taiwanese market.

While his second point, I agree with. Developers can still sell their apps in Taiwan, but they might not be bothered to exert the extra effort of providing Chinese localization. Lucifer Jheng actually commented on one of my previous posts saying, “I found that many Taiwanese and Chinese won’t easily accept a game made by Taiwanese/Chinese but does not support Chinese language”. And if that happens, then :( (yes, sad face) for Taiwanese consumers.

So, what do you guys think?