'Free' iPhone apps may now come with a price

Apple enables in-app purchasing in free applications allowing you to bypass Apple's App Store.

Apple has introduced an in-app purchase feature for free iPhone apps that allow you to fulfill transactions within the iPhone applications themselves - no Apple App Store required. The feature was previously available for paid applications.

By enabling in-application transactions Apple makes life easier for developers who no longer have to make "lite" or teaser versions of applications along with ones that cost iPhone owners money. If you like the free version of Ragdoll Blaster Lite and want to upgrade to the $1.99 full version, now you may have the option to upgrade within the application itself - no App Store needed.

Apple's decision to allow in-app purchases was unexpected, as the company's stance on this matter was that free apps should remain free, and users shouldn't pay for anything from within a free application. As with paid apps, Apple will still facilitate the backend billing and take a cut out of the sale price of the in-app purchase.

In-app purchases from within free applications though, could have a widely beneficial effect in the iPhone app store economy. Using the example of a magazine application, a developer wouldn't have to charge for its application, but could charge for the actual content. This could make more customers download their app.

There is a lot of potential from in-app purchases from within free applications for games developers, who could offer for free a limited-functionality version of their game and then charge users for further gameplay levels. The App Store will also be relieved from the thousands of "Lite" apps and could eliminate customer confusion.

But this trend of in-app purchases from free apps might not be picking up very quickly. As developer Marco Arment notes in his blog, for existing apps with a free/paid version split, "there's no practical way to transition the existing paid customers to a new "free+" version without making them pay again like a new customer."

And as an interesting note, Apple also said in its letter to developers that using in-app purchase "can also help combat some of the problems of software piracy by allowing you to verify In App Purchases." -- which would be the first time Apple acknowledged iPhone app piracy as a problem, considering there are now over 4 million jailbroken iPhones in the wild and that Apple is trying to solve this problem by shipping jailbreak-proof 3GS models.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appleiphone app storesmartphonesiPhoneiPhone 3GSiphone 3giphone apps

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Daniel Ionescu

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?