Blog Post

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.

7 Responses to “Apple Allows iPhone In-App Purchases for Free Apps”

  1. swforeman

    This will be a nice change for the app developers as the lifecycle for the base application will be extended and will allow better solutions because the application development can be amortized over a longer useful life. These better apps should be great for customers. This should be a win for everyone in the deal.

  2. Teslanaut

    This is no different from what the consoles, PC, and some other handhelds (PSP, not sure about DS) are doing. You pay for the game, they keep you playing by offering DLC (Be it paid or Free). With this, Developers now can offer their game for Free and still give you content to keep playing (Again, be it paid or free). Now remember this people. Its up to the —Developers— what and how they charge, whether it be for the App or the DLC that follows. Not Apple. Remember now.

    • Teslanaut

      Woops, also forgot to add:

      Also, the 70/30 split also exists in the In-App purchasing and it is spread out through all computers and devices that are connected to the account (Up to 5) so you don’t have to pay again for each device that wants to download the In-App DLC.