— Apple has started at a "Try Before You Buy" program in the iPhone's online App Store that applies to "lite" versions of some paid apps, and to some free apps. As of Friday morning, there were about 100 apps available in the new category.
The App Store, with more than 230,00 programs went online two years ago. Many apps have always been available on a trial basis, but this centralizes and showcases those programs.
While Apple dominates in terms of the number of apps available for its iPhone, the Android Market, which serves the fast-growing segment of users of the Google-based mobile operating system, has a 24-hour return policy on its apps, something Apple does not have. There are about 70,000 Android apps.
Windows' Marketplace for Mobile also has a 24-hour return policy for phones using Windows Mobile, aka Windows Phone. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Among the App Store offerings for free trials so far are several games, including "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Lite," "Homerun Battle 3D Free" "The Impossible Game Lite" and "Labyrinth 2 Lite."
The try-before-you-buy effort may also help to curtail piracy of iPhone apps, a problem estimated to cost Apple at least a half-billion dollars since the App Store opened, according to one report earlier this year.