Saturday 2 March 2013

In App purchases and In App advertisements, the new nuisance

In App purchases and In App advertisements, the new nuisance

Yesterday BBC reported about a small boy making in App purchases amounting to  £1700 ($2550 or Rs.140250.00) credit.  The boy named Danny said  "I just clicked on it because it said it was free".  This in App purchases are now getting serious and costly too.

A five-year-old boy, Danny Kitchen, of UK accidentally made £1700 ($2550) of in-app purchases in a freemium game in just 15 minutes after asking his father to type in the password for a free download.  The Zombies vs Ninja game is a free game but comes with £70 ($105) in App purchases for game keys and weapons packs. 

Neither the 5-year-old, Danny Kitchen, nor his parents were aware of the charges being racked up as the child played.  This trival game would have give the parents of Danny Kitchen a sleepless night or too.  However with the free games having only in App ads to earn revenues, the In App purchases of extra lives, lifepack packs, coins and even other games have become the new reality of the games played on smart phones.  This type of in App purchase may look seemingly very cheap but as in case of Danny Kitchen may run into huge amounts of dollars.  

I don't think young Danny knew what he was doing and more so the parents who gave the pass code to the child thinking it was a harmless download.  Imagine the fright they must have got when they got the final bill of the download.  Thankfully, Apple immediately swung into action and has offered a refund to the parents of Danny Kitchen.  You may not be so lucky.

The Apple, fresh from the settlement of a similar lawsuit brought in 2011 after children ran up hundreds of dollars in spending on in-app purchases in freemium games.

The company will give iTunes credits to parents who claim their minor bought in-app items without permission and the option of cash refunds for claims over $30.  If you have already suffered from such a issue, check the full settlement list here at Scribd.

But the real question is how to stop the young tots or even some grown ups from running amok with such in App purchases.  One of the tools available is Passcode for in App purchases.  The Apple has started issuing separate pass codes for purchase of Apps and in Apps.  But as in case of Danny it is surprising how the company accepted a single pass code to let him download the whole lot of packs.

Parents please note that Apple also provides a variety of parental controls and restriction tools to help minimize the possibility of such issues, allowing parents to restrict what types of content may be used on the device, turn off app downloads or in-app purchases, and require the account password for every app or in-app transaction.  You as a parent should be very informed of the restrictions and enable them.

Remember you may not be as lucky as the parents of Danny Kitchen, so be informed and be vigilant.  Please write in your comments about any similar case that may have happened with you.

Vijay Prabhu

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