Apple Allows iPhone In-App Purchases for Free Apps


When Apple (s aapl) first allowed in-app purchases for third-party apps on the iPhone platform it was restricted to paid apps only, even if the app was only 99 cents. Today, Apple informed all registered iPhone developers that it was now allowing free apps to contain in-app purchases.

While this does open the door to potential ‘bait and switch’ apps (its free, but then you have to pay to make it useful), the advantages completely outweigh the potential for bait and switch. Developers have been asking since the beginning to make true ‘trial versions’ available that can be upgraded without the consumer losing data. If app developers embrace this it will put a complete end to the argument that Crackulous exists, not for piracy, but to enable users to ‘trial’ software.

What is not clear yet is that if Apple will allow ‘time limited’ demos or not — giving the full features for 30 days or so and then locking it out with an upgrade. Another question is how this change will affect the top “Paid” and “Free” app lists. Time will answer these questions, but I think this is definitely a good move on Apple’s part and continues to strengthen its App Store’s lead in the industry.

The email sent to developers is below:

In App Purchase is being rapidly adopted by developers in their paid apps. Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions, and digital services.

You can also simplify your development by creating a single version of your app that uses In App Purchase to unlock additional functionality, eliminating the need to create Lite versions of your app. Using In App Purchase in your app can also help combat some of the problems of software piracy by allowing you to verify In App Purchases.

Visit the App Store Resource Center for more details about how you can add In App Purchases to your free apps.