Apple's iPhone 3.0 Rings in the Emerging Paid Web

iphoneThe iPhone OS 3.0 is nearly here — and it’s packed with end-user features, but some of the more prominent additions to the OS  deal with developer APIs that offer more options for payments, long-awaited push notifications, and peer-to-peer Bluetooth connectivity.

While there’s no shortage of opinions on what Apple should build, buy, do or create next, it sure feels good that it executed on our prediction about the micropayments potential of the App Store. The new transaction types will immediately benefit gaming players like Zynga. The folks at Tapulous are already busy building enhanced offerings including a la carte paid songs. And you can expect many apps to offer their own “stores” in the near future. The new payment options also open the door to more content subscriptions for sports and entertainment. One can imagine everything from pay-per-view videos for events to plain old magazine subscriptions.

Apple may simply be responding to developer feature requests, but the move has positioned it to become an even bigger player in online transactions.  Here are three critical avenues for development if it hopes to build a bigger and better walled garden on top of its payment infrastructure:

  • First, Apple must take the payment system up another notch by creating its own virtual currency. This could enable inter-app functionality and allow it to find an additional sweet spot for more revenue.
  • Next, we need to see more wireless devices that blur the lines about what we consider PCs. Ultimately, iPhone apps could and should function on the desktop!
  • Finally, Apple has to finally figure out how to get social. Now that there are thousands of apps, I need to know instantly what apps my friends are using. I also need to know what fun things they are spending money or virtual currency on.

Put those together, and suddenly, Apple will have done what seemed impossible: We’ll have a vibrant paid web and a micropayment economy.