In App Purchase Now Available For Free Apps

Posted by Chris Hall on October 15th, 2009

Since the launch of 3.0, I've seen just about 0 successful attempts at in app purchasing. With the pricing scale the way it is, and customers unwillingness to buy things that cost more than a dollar, I wonder if it will ever take off, unless the in-app purchases are going for something around a nickel.

To beat this lack of use, Apple, unwilling to let anything not named Apple TV whither away and die, has decided to let in-app purchasing be available on free apps, making way for a new 'buy it if you like it' system.

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.

The app industry seems to have mixed feelings but all see somewhat excited about the change.

"This announcement changes the landscape of the App Store as we know it," said Colin Smith, co-founder and vice president of Freeverse. "It's not clear just yet how quickly it will change, but you can be sure that this will be significant. Freeverse is currently discussing how to incorporate this change into our development plans."

Bryan Barletta, Developer Relations for Medialets and former Editor in Chief of 148apps, has an interesting take on the subject. "Part of me is excited. The ability to do one app that is both a lite and full version will reduce some clutter going forward once adoption has taken place and we'll most likely see more free apps hit the store knowing that they can charge at a later time." He warns though that "the App Store could easily turn into a pay-to-play market, where you download a shell of an app with no content in it until you purchase a DLC package. There will be people who use it right, and they will be showcased for it, but I'm still not sure this was the best idea. So few apps have actually implemented in app purchasing on a paid side."

So is this the beginning of the end for lite versions of apps, or will this just become a really annoying way for apps to appear free, even when they aren't? I can just envision the day that The Sims 4 comes out, for free, with no furniture or clothing available... I can't wait.