According to this MacRumors report, Apple has started to dispense promotional codes to App Store developers. With them, developers will now be able to grant free access to their app for up to 50 users. Previously, developers would have had to resort to the ad-hoc distribution method or iTunes gift cards to give promotional copies of their applications. While the 50 user limit might seem paltry compared to the ad-hoc’s 100, the promotional code limit is reset with version updates. Additionally, and probably most welcoming to both developers and recipients alike, is no longer having to deal with the hassles of the mobile provisioning that the ad hoc method is reliant on.
Via mobile provisioning, for promotional copies to be granted, developers would have to get the UDID of the touch device from each person receiving a copy and from there generate a .mobileprovision file to send with the actual application file that would bind that app to each specified device. Once both files were received, the end user would drag and drop them into iTunes to sync it. With the promo code method, all that is eschewed for a system that as easy as redeeming an iTunes gift card.
In the future, we can see this opening the door for more than just a developer/reviewer relationship, and extended to contests and giveaways. With complexity removed and the fact that the codes are linked to a specific app, developers would be able to invite people to win copies of their app without relying on gift cards, which is a hockey method since there value of the gift-card may not match the price of the app thus costing the developer additional money and there’s no guarantee that the recipient will actually use it to buy the app.